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Good And Bad News For Stimulus Recipients In Pittsburgh

Mark Nootbaar
90.5 WESA
PNC Financial Services was founded as the Pittsburgh Trust and Savings Company in 1845.


On today's program: How the nation’s $2 trillion stimulus package could land in Pittsburgh; what we know so far about PA’s record number of unemployment claims; and how home health workers are trying to stay safe during the pandemic.

Federal stimulus could bring relief to Pittsburgh wallets
(00:00 — 8:30) 

Chief economist Gus Faucher of PNC Financial Services Group says the $2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump last week will help thousands of households and small businesses in Pittsburgh. 

“Perhaps the restaurant down the street or the mom-and-pop retailer,” as well as dry cleaners, hair salons and tattoo parlors, for example. “I think it’s a good start,” he says, “but it depends on how long the shutdowns last.”

Some small businesses that “were already on the edge” won’t recover from another recession, Faucher says, but Pittsburgh may not struggle as much as other major metro areas.

“It’s not that I think that Pittsburgh will escape this unscathed, but I think that the economic damage could be less in Pittsburgh than it is nationally,” he says, because the region is less reliant on some of the industries that are more exposed to the impacts of the outbreak.

PA tops the nation in jobless claims
(8:30 — 13:50)

More than 700,000 thousand people have now filed statewide since the first wave of businesses closed March 12. The one-week totals released Thursday shattered previous records and were right in line with every other state enforcing widespread shutdowns to try and slow down the spread of coronavirus.

But Chris Briem, a regional economist with the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research, says it's not all bad news.

"I think one of the more remarkable things is that Pennsylvania is reporting one of the largest numbers in new claims in unemployment, and I think that might be a reflection of the fact that they are able to get folks into the system better than other states."

Among the hardest-hit industries are food service, construction, education, manufacturing and retail. Briem says some sectors are likely to grow, like hiring at grocery stores and at regional health systems, but it won't be nearly enough to make up for so many jobs lost. 

Home care workers on the frontline against COVID-19
(13:50 — 18:01)

Like grocery store clerks and delivery drivers, home health care workers are considered “essential” during Pennsylvania’s coronavirus lockdown. In this job, social distancing is impossible, and the people they work with are very vulnerable. 

Keystone Crossroads Laura Benshoff reports on the growing industry in Pennsylvania that’s walking a tightrope between taking care of others and not spreading the pandemic.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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