Regional News

Looking for Answers in the Past to Blunt Pandemic Job Losses

At the entrance of Laurel Hill State Park, a bronze statue of a strapping young worker pays homage to the men who built the verdant park with a lake in Somerset County as part of a federal Citizen Conservation Corps created to ease the pain of crippling job losses during the Great Depression. Almost 90 …

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Local Unemployment Drops, but Rate Remains Staggering

Unemployment in southwestern Pennsylvania fell sharply in May, when the region began to relax social restrictions and reopen businesses that had been closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Still, the jobless rate remains at levels rarely seen as the pandemic continued to take its toll on the local economy. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan …

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Could the Coronavirus Kill the Gasoline Tax?

A crisis in how to pay for roads and bridges with a gasoline tax had been worsening for decades. With Americans traveling less, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating it. Fifty years ago, when the miles Americans traveled in their cars were soaring, a tax on every gallon of gasoline sold worked as a way pay …

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Pandemic Heats Up Housing Market

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business as usual in the residential real estate industry as it swept through the Pittsburgh region in March. It shut the doors on open houses, cancelled showings and stifled home inspections. But it failed to curb demand. A Howard Hanna real estate agent helped a seller stage a home via Facetime …

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Pandemic Slams Pittsburgh Jobs

The COVID-19 pandemic continued its attack on the Pittsburgh metropolitan job market in May with the region losing 175,800 jobs since May 2019, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. All of Pittsburgh Today’s 15 benchmark regions posted significant job losses in May. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area lost 14.6 percent over its jobs …

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Breathing Bad Air

Air pollution from traffic and industrial stacks finds its way to most places in Allegheny County. But minority and low-income neighborhoods are more likely to endure the highest levels and the health risks that come with not being able to find respite from bad air, a University of Pittsburgh study reports. Researchers mapped black carbon …

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An Eroding Anomaly

The economic fallout of the pandemic threatens to weaken long-struggling fire and ambulance services in southwestern Pennsylvania that were already strapped for cash. Although the way the region’s fire and ambulance services are structured varies, they share daunting challenges including a dearth of new staff and a perennial lack of funding. And social distancing restrictions …

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COVID-19 Survey: Allegheny County Residents React to the Pandemic and Shutdown

Stay-at-home orders, business closures and other social distancing measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania were appropriate and necessary in the eyes of 70 percent of Allegheny County residents surveyed last week. More than two-thirds reported they’ve suffered no or only minor financial losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. …

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April Unemployment Nears 17 Percent

Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area reached 16.8 percent in April—just below the region’s peak unemployment rate in the early 1980s. For the first time since the collapse of the steel industry, fewer than one million people were employed in the Pittsburgh region, according to preliminary employment data from the Pennsylvania Department of …

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Billions Ride on Pandemic-Hampered Census

COVID-19 is quietly threatening southwestern Pennsylvania’s share of billions of federal dollars that will be critical if the region is to recover from the pandemic with hopes for a future of growth and vitality intact. For months, the pandemic has disrupted the decennial census, putting at risk efforts to get a complete count of the …

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The Curtain Rises on a New Reality

The music of Chopin isn’t soaring through Heinz Hall. “Jersey Boys” won’t dance in sync on the Benedum stage. And a mid-June Friday night at Point State Park won’t be packed with concert-goers in lawn chairs. Instead, the Pittsburgh region’s arts and cultural organizations—which employ 15,000 and add roughly $1 billion in direct spending into …

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Pittsburgh’s April Job Loss Is Worst Ever

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Pittsburgh metropolitan job market with record-breaking force in April, with the region losing 204,500 jobs compared with April of last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Pittsburgh’s loss reflects the employment picture across America as the economic impact of the pandemic intensifies. The United States lost 20.5 million …

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Pandemic Widens Pittsburgh’s Digital Divide

In Pittsburgh and across the nation, the coronavirus pandemic has isolated residents in their homes and shifted huge swaths of public life to the digital world that 1 in 10 people in southwestern Pennsylvania are left out of. Closing longstanding gaps in access to the Internet has taken on new urgency as employers, educators, doctors …

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Pitt Study: Soaring Municipal Failures Loom

More than 100 southwestern Pennsylvania municipalities will be in financial distress next year if the economy can’t shake free from the grip of the coronavirus and prevent budget reserves from being drained and tax revenues from drying up, a new study suggests. Municipal officials, uncertain of the duration of the outbreak and severity of the …

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“Historic Low Levels of Pollution”

Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods received a respite from air pollution in the weeks after nonessential businesses were closed and residents were urged to stay at home and off the streets to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Fine particulate pollution and smog-making gases fell to levels rarely seen in Allegheny County from March 15 to …

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Virus Fallout

Even as it’s leading the fight against the coronavirus in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County is facing a devastating decline in revenue because of the virus. The county depends on a wide array of tax revenues that are certain to decline, at least during the next several months, due to business closures, stay-at-home orders and the slowing …

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Development Boom On Hold

Pittsburgh’s landscape was about to undergo a major facelift this year. The Strip District, Station Square, the lower Hill District were all to break ground on major commercial and multi-use real estate projects. Until COVID-19 arrived. The sudden sweep of the pandemic across the region halted most new construction. Delays in building are compounded by …

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Municipal Nightmare

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought municipalities across southwestern Pennsylvania face to face with the prospect of steep financial losses as stay-at-home orders, business closures and soaring unemployment choke off streams of revenues vital to paying their bills and providing the day-to-day services their residents rely on, such as police, garbage pickup and road repair. The …

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Who Is Most Affected When Places of Worship Close?

The closing of churches, synagogues and other places of worship during the COVID-19 pandemic affects the practices of nearly 2 in 3 Allegheny County residents. But the hardship is not evenly shared. Hardest hit are residents who regularly attend religious services, such as those who attend every day or at least once a week. In …

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Now That the Money’s Gone

As regional banks brace for another wave of small business loan applications, questions surrounding the emergency federal program are front and center after the first $349 billion quickly ran out. Congress and the White House were reportedly near a deal late Monday that would add more than $300 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program, which …

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The City of Pittsburgh Faces Crisis but Its ‘Rainy-Day Fund’ Leaves It Better Prepared Than Most

In a letter to the White House Monday seeking federal support, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto projected a 21 percent loss in revenues this year. The expected $127 million loss will plunge the city into a financial crisis, but that blow may be softened by a little known rainy-day fund. “Over a five-year period from 2020–2024 …

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The Old Order’s Final Portrait

While economic damage from the coronavirus is obvious in Pittsburgh’s deserted streets, the March jobs numbers will be the last ones from the pre-virus era. The most recent job growth numbers show that the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area gained about 1,200 jobs between March 2019 and March 2020, a 0.1 percent increase over the …

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