Jeffery is Pittsburgh Today's senior editor, a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Pittsburgh Quarterly. In his past life, he was a reporter and editor for newspapers large and small, only one of which is still in business. His magazine and newspaper reporting has won numerous awards.

Survey: Businesses Can’t Find Workers

Southwestern Pennsylvania businesses are navigating a rough patch in their recovery from the disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, with many delaying plans for returning to normal operations and most reporting trouble finding workers to fill open positions, a regional survey suggests. The findings reflect problems reported across the U.S. as the Delta variant of …

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Pittsburgh Gets High Marks as a Place for Innovation

Pittsburgh has one of the world’s top emerging startup ecosystems from which companies are born from new ideas, talented innovators and investment in their development, according to a new report. California’s Silicon Valley is still far and away the best ecosystem for startups, followed by London, New York City, Beijing and Boston. But Pittsburgh is …

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The Perfect Antidote

Bob Phillips was in Chile fly fishing with a group of clients in early March of last year. For 10 days, he’d been in places that the news of the world didn’t reach. It wasn’t until he boarded the plane for home that he knew something wasn’t right. “Everyone was wearing masks,” he said. “What’s …

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Virus Still Seen as Threat; Consumer Optimism Slows

Southwestern Pennsylvanians don’t believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, but continuing to wear a mask is something fewer and fewer are willing to do, a new survey suggests. Meanwhile, consumer confidence in the local economy dipped in June and optimism among residents about their personal financial situations fell for the first time this year. …

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Pandemic’s Disruptive Path Still Haunts the Unemployed

Fallout from the pandemic is discouraging a significant number of unemployed southwestern Pennsylvanians from looking for work, even as businesses reopen and COVID cases decline, according to a recent survey. Caring for children, dependent older adults and others was the most common reason for not looking for work that was given by unemployed workers who …

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‘I Am What You Make Me’

The American flag has flown on the moon proclaiming the nation that dared to walk on its surface. It was cheered in European cities and towns liberated from Nazi occupation by American soldiers during World War II. And it has been burned in protests against U.S. policy at home and abroad. It’s draped on the …

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Pandemic Population Shifts, Favoring Affordable Places

Stephan Whitaker listened as speculation that COVID-19 might kindle a profound exodus from urban America intensified as the pandemic dragged on. After all, tens of millions of people were forced to work remotely, leaving them less tethered to the workplace than ever before and freer to move. Whitaker, a policy economist at the Federal Reserve …

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Vaccinations, Fewer Cases Brighten COVID Outlook

Last month saw more encouraging signs that southwestern Pennsylvania is turning the corner in the battle to regain normalcy after a year of living under the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 2 of 3 people have been vaccinated against COVID in Allegheny County, one of the highest rates in Pennsylvania, according to state Health Department data. …

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Consumer Confidence Trending up in Region

Confidence in the economy and their personal financial situation is rising among consumers in southwestern Pennsylvania as pandemic restrictions on businesses ease and the COVID vaccine reaches more people. But confidence in the local economy and their own employment outlook remain much lower than before the pandemic, despite the recent surge in optimism, according to …

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Municipal Time Bomb

The fear was real last spring as local taxes—the lifeblood of boroughs, townships and cities—were trickling in. The COVID-19 pandemic was closing or impairing businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania, the state and nation. The U.S. unemployment rate soared to nearly 15 percent. “We worried that our revenues would collapse,” said Scott Andrejchak, the municipal manager of …

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Wanted: More People

Southwestern Pennsylvania staggered into 2020 in need of people, again. It was coming off of yet another year when deaths outnumbered births and the number of newcomers couldn’t keep pace with the number of residents moving somewhere else. The COVID-19 pandemic likely makes the already-long odds of a quick rebound in the region’s population even …

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As More Get Vaccinated, Local Hesitancy Subsides

The number of southwestern Pennsylvanians open to being vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus is surging as the local vaccine rollout gains steam and public hesitancy wanes, even among those who had been steadfast in their refusal to get the shots, a new survey suggests. But the increased willingness to get vaccinated coincides with widespread dissatisfaction …

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Allegheny County Meets Air-Quality Standard for First Time in Decades

After lagging most of the nation for decades, Allegheny County has managed to meet the minimum federal health standard for one of the most harmful of the major air pollutants, county health department data suggest. Levels of fine particulate pollution, known as PM2.5, averaged 11.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air over the last three …

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Pandemic Saps Confidence in Jobs Outlook, Economy

Concern about their jobs and the local and national economies is widespread among people in southwestern Pennsylvania as the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its second year. In January, their confidence in all three fell to some of the lowest levels since the region’s first case of the coronavirus was reported 11 months ago, a new …

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Getting Vaccinated Gains Popularity

Supplies are short and the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine is slow, but the willingness to get the shots is sharply rising across southwestern Pennsylvania, a new survey suggests. And hesitancy over getting vaccinated is fading the most among non-whites. Some 60 percent of southwestern Pennsylvanians said they were ready to get the shot in …

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Local COVID Cases Trail Benchmark Regions

COVID-19 infections slowed last month in Allegheny County, keeping the rate of new cases of the coronavirus below the national average and lower than most metropolitan counties. But the encouraging drop in new infections following the New Year holiday is tempered by frustration over a slow roll-out of the two available vaccines and concern over …

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As Local Virus Cases Surge, Other Regions Fare Worse

The surge in COVID-19 cases continued in December across southwestern Pennsylvania, where all but one county saw infections rise, some dramatically. Still, the region fared better than most in metropolitan America. Meanwhile, new survey data suggests the number of southwestern Pennsylvanians willing to get vaccinated against the virus increased during November, when two drug makers …

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Consumer Worries Mount as Pandemic Toll Worsens

Southwestern Pennsylvania businesses face the prospect of a rough holiday season with a large share of shoppers expecting to spend less than they did last year as the relentless COVID-19 pandemic continues to wear down consumer confidence. Confidence in the economy, personal finances and prospects for employment fell in November to some of the lowest …

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Pitt Scientists Gain on COVID

In February, University of Pittsburgh scientists began scanning their library of human antibodies for any that might have the potential to tame the novel COVID-19 virus. With some 1 trillion antibodies to sort through, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. They found one in less than a week using techniques that …

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Stayin’ Alive

Santa is having a tough year. Finding a job has never been harder. The jobs he lands will likely involve a plexiglass shield separating him from the starry-eyed children with long wish lists they want to share. If he appears in person at all. In some cases, he may have to go virtual. In any …

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Pandemic Tests Resiliency of State’s Small Businesses

Most small businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania and across the state have found ways to adapt to COVID-related sales losses, social restrictions and other bruising conditions. But the lingering pandemic has darkened their outlook. Nearly one third of business leaders doubt conditions will return to pre-pandemic levels even after the virus is tamed, according to a …

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Local COVID Cases Are Second-Lowest Among Benchmark Regions

COVID-19 cases rose 29 percent in Allegheny County during the first two weeks of the month. Still, the county’s infection rate is only half the national average—an indication of how cities and towns across the United States are struggling to blunt the most aggressive surge of the coronavirus since the pandemic began nine months ago. …

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