Economy & Business

90.5 WESA explores the regional economy, as well as covering the issues that ordinary Pittsburghers face in their working lives.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Businesses are starting to recover from pandemic-related layoffs and economic activity, according to a new survey from PNC. One hundred fifty small and mid-size Pennsylvania business owners and executives responded to the survey.

New PUA Payments Paused In PA Due To Uptick In Suspicious Claims

Sep 22, 2020
Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania is suspending payments for new claims to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, known by its acronym PUA, while the state deals with a spike in suspected fraudulent claims.

Pennsylvania Sees Big Drop In Jobless Rate In August

Sep 18, 2020

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate took a steep drop in August as the labor force shrank and payrolls shot up again in a continuing rebound from shutdowns and the worst economic effects of the pandemic, according to state figures released Friday.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP


On today's program: A federal emergency assistance program for people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic is running out of money well ahead of schedule; voters can choose from multiple ways to cast their ballots this November; and local arts organizations say they’ve been harmed by a ticketing service that’s not holding up its end of the deal.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Two hundred Pittsburgh households will soon get an extra $500 a month as part of a two-year foray into offering residents a guaranteed income. On a call with leaders from other cities Wednesday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the city will start to make the payments later this year as part of a pilot program funded by philanthropic donors.

Struggling Kraft Heinz Sells Dairy Brands to Lactalis

Sep 15, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Kraft Heinz said Tuesday that it is selling its natural cheese business — including its Cracker Barrel and Breakstone’s brands — to French dairy company Lactalis Group as part of a larger restructuring.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

With negotiations over a new coronavirus relief package stalled in Congress, extra money for food assistance is among the items hanging in the balance. And in tens of thousands of local households, the impasse compounds the fear of going hungry.

Keith Srakocic / AP


On today's program: Though the unemployment rate remains high, some sectors of the Pittsburgh economy are beginning the slow recovery process; the new school year poses additional difficulties for students who lack secure housing; and guidance on traveling during the pandemic can be confusing.

Pennsylvania Gun Shops Struggle To Keep Firearms, Ammo In Stock

Sep 14, 2020
Kate Landis / WITF

As civil unrest flares up in some cities, the presidential election nears and the coronavirus pandemic enters its sixth month, more Pennsylvanians are arming themselves.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry, funds provided by the federal Lost Wages Assistance program, which offers an extra $300 per week to qualified unemployment recipients, have run out. The Federal Emergency Management Agency-run program – which was initially slated to run through December, or until funds were depleted – will now only cover a span of six weeks. 

Qualified claimants have not yet received their first checks.

Matt Rourke / AP

The coronavirus crisis has forced companies across Pennsylvania to cut workers’ hours. But thanks to a little-known program called “shared work,” some of those businesses have kept their staff off the unemployment line.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Unemployed barista Sharyn Sefton learned less than two weeks ago she would not get her job back, even though the Crazy Mocha coffee shop she had led until COVID-19 hit had already reopened – and even though the Cranberry-based chain is sitting on federal money meant to encourage the rehiring of workers. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania state utility regulators have effectively extended a moratorium preventing utilities from terminating service to non-paying customers for three more weeks while the state fights the spread of the coronavirus.

Todd Berkey / The Tribune-Democrat via AP

After years of debate and a growing consensus that the law was outdated, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court has decided the state Board of Cosmetology will no longer be able to deny applicants licenses based on what it perceives to be a lack of “good moral character.”

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rose in July to remain well above the national rate, even as payrolls rebounded for another month from pandemic-driven shutdowns, the state reported Friday.

Amy Sisk / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania does not have the money to provide $100 a week as President Donald Trump pushes states to help pay for a new round of federal unemployment assistance, Gov. Tom Wolf told the state's members of Congress.

Susan Walsh / AP

On Saturday, President Trump had a message for the millions of out-of-work Americans for whom boosted federal unemployment benefits ran out last month: don’t worry.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA


On today's program: Newsroom employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette vote to walk out after three and a half years of negotiations failed to produce a new contract; groups in Pittsburgh and across the country work to preserve historic sites significant to communities of color; and amid the pandemic, some museums worry about their futures. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

Union members at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette voted overwhelmingly to go on strike Monday after years of stalled contract negotiations and multiple complaints of labor law violations by Block Communications Inc., the company that owns the newspaper. The announcement to strike was accompanied by strong words for the employer.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Pennsylvania has contacted the U.S. Department of Labor about a loan to prop up its unemployment compensation trust fund as President Donald Trump pushes states to help pay for an extension of federal unemployment benefits.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

When Pennsylvania businesses shut down en masse on March 16 due to the coronavirus, Bloomfield resident Abbey Rideout lost both her jobs within a day. She had worked as a barista at Pittsburgh’s Tazza D’Oro and Crazy Mocha cafés, but nearly five months later, she’s still out of work – and now she's lost a crucial lifeline that helped keep her head above water.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Local restaurant and bar owners plan to gather in Bethel Park Thursday to advance their own plan to manage the risk of COVID-19.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Sitting in a grassy lot along Braddock’s main avenue, Jona Reyes dreams of restoring the energy that she says once coursed through the neighborhood. Since steel’s decline more than 30 years ago, the Mon Valley community has suffered from chronic disinvestment.

PA Business Owners To Wolf: Please Police Mask Requirement So We Don't Have To

Jul 31, 2020
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

David Evasew is not taking the threat of the pandemic lightly.

Matt Rourke / AP


On today's program: Pittsburgh-area employees filed 100 complaints related to COVID-19 concerns with OSHA in the early months of the pandemic; professional sports teams with racist names and logos consider rebranding; and RealTime Interventions, a local live-arts production company, takes its events online.

Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvanians who receive unemployment benefits will be short $600 dollars this week; the weekly $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation expired for Pennsylvanians on Saturday, and Congress has yet to decide to renew the additional payment. 

New PA Grant Targets Minority Business Owners Hurt By Coronavirus Shutdown

Jul 23, 2020
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

On a recent sweltering afternoon, Akeem Dixon and Christine Brown stepped out of their North Philadelphia office to do something that’s become increasingly rare during the COVID-19 shutdown: in-person outreach.

As Deadline Looms To Renew $600 Jobless Benefits, PA ‘Workers Are Terrified’

Jul 22, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

This week, Congress is considering another pandemic stimulus package, as unemployment remains stubbornly high across the country and coronavirus cases rise nationwide.

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania’s lottery sales have rebounded after taking a big hit this spring when the statewide shutdown took effect. While other state lotteries are facing huge deficits as people buy fewer tickets when they head out for essential items, Pennsylvania's rebound comes via a spike in online lottery sales, according to PA Lottery executive director Drew Svitko. 

June Jobless Rate Slid Down In Pennsylvania, Payrolls Jumped

Jul 17, 2020
Allyson Ruggieri / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s unemployment slid a bit down in June after hitting a pandemic peak in April, but it was well above the national rate even as payrolls rebounded by more 230,000, the state reported Friday.