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Recovery From Recession Will Take Time, Says PNC Chief Economist

Mark Nootbaar
90.5 WESA
The U.S. added jobs in May, but more must be done to lead the country out of the current recession, says PNC Financial Services Group's chief economist.


On today's program: A look at what economic recovery from the shutdown might look like in southwestern Pennsylvania; YWCA Greater Pittsburgh returns to its core mission; and as businesses across the country reopen, music venues continue to struggle. 

PNC chief economist: Economy “not anywhere close to where we were at the beginning of 2020”
(00:00 — 6:59)

According to the Labor Department, Pennsylvania added nearly 200,000 jobs last month. Nationwide, there were 2.5 million positions created or restored. However, these account for just a small portion of the 20 million jobs lost earlier in the pandemic.

PNC Financial Services Group chief economistGus Faucher says that while the reopening of Pennsylvania businesses during the green phase will help stimulate economic recovery, he is concerned that employment figures and consumer spending levels are remaining below where they were before the pandemic.

“Restaurants may be open, but only at 50 percent capacity. Fewer consumers are going out. Even if they’re allowed to go out, they may not want to,” he says. “So we’re doing a little bit better in southwestern Pennsylvania, but it’s still apparent that we’re not anywhere close to where we were at the beginning of 2020.”

Jobs alone will not be enough to lead the U.S. out of the current economic downturn, says Faucher. “Ultimately, that’s how we’re going to come out of this recession is by consumers going out and being willing to spend more,” he tells The Confluence.

And he says that won’t happen until people feel safe being out in public again.

“I think the most important thing is to get the public health aspect of this done correctly, and that will give consumers the confidence to go out and spend, it will give businesses the confidence to go out and invest.”

During the pandemic, YWCA says community needs are way up
(7:03 — 13:28)

TheYWCA Greater Pittsburgh has announced it will sell its headquarters building in downtown Pittsburgh. Angela Reynolds, who became the organization’s CEO in February, says that the move is part of their greater strategic plan to return the YWCA to its core mission: a focus on race and gender equity.


“The organization was addressing issues of gender disparities and racial disparities. Where we’re moving now is more deeply into what are those strategies and systems change and advocacy efforts that need to be put in place to eliminate racism, and also to look at that intersection between race and gender,” she says. “We are in a position now because of this current movement to actually affect real change.”


According to Reynolds, the sale of the building will not affect the services offered by YWCA, and will allow them to better focus on the needs of the communities they serve, which have gone up since the pandemic began.


“The numbers had pretty much doubled in terms of people who were reaching out for basic need support—food,” says Reynolds. “When we look at households who are living paycheck to paycheck, minority populations were already challenged and that didn’t go away and it didn’t start because of coronavirus.”


Find more information about YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 resourceshere.


Music venues across the country remain shuttered
(13:33 — 18:03)

Pittsburgh’s shops, restaurants and even museums and movie theaters are re-opening to visitors as coronavirus restrictions ease. But live music venues are having a more difficult time.


90.5 WESA’sBill O’Driscoll reports about 20 of Pittsburgh's independent music venues and promoters have joined a national effort to get federal relief for their industry which has been shutdown during 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.

Doug Shugarts is a 23-year veteran of broadcast news. Doug began his career at WBUR in Boston, where he worked on the nationally-syndicated programs “The Connection” and “Here and Now.” He won awards for best use of sound, coverage of the 2003 war in Iraq, and helped launch the station’s local news program, “Radio Boston.” In 2014 Doug moved across town to GBH and helped reboot morning news programming and launch other broadcast and web projects. Doug studied Composition at Berklee College of Music and Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of California. A resident of Pittsburgh’s Southside, Doug enjoys feasting on arepas and yucca fries at Cilantro and Ajo and meeting his canine neighbors at Big Dog Coffee.
Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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