Julia Fraser

Julia Fraser is a Pittsburgh Today staff writer and research specialist.

The Curtain Rises, At Last

On an evening in early June, people lounged in camp chairs and blankets on the grass at Point State Park, lines formed at food booths on the edge of the lawn and people stood shoulder-to-shoulder, swaying to the sounds of blues rock and soul music performed by Celisse on the main stage. It was more …

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Region Adds Jobs, but Needs More

The Pittsburgh region welcomed back thousands of jobs in June but will need sustained gains to climb back to pre-pandemic employment levels. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area gained 57,800 jobs from June 2020 to June 2021, including 9,300 jobs since May 2021. “Jobs are up more than you would seasonally expect here for the …

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Unemployment Falls and Labor Force Plunges

Unemployment fell sharply in southwestern Pennsylvania last month. But the good news is tempered by continued contraction of the regional labor force, which plunged to its lowest level since June 1991, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data. Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area dropped one full percentage point — from …

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As Unemployment Falls, Local Labor Force Stalls

Unemployment in southwestern Pennsylvania ticked down in April, but the region’s labor force failed to grow much beyond where it was a year earlier, when it had shrunk during the height of pandemic-related business closures and restrictions. Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area dipped from 7.6 percent in March 2021 to 7.4 percent …

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Seasonal Hiring Boosts Local Jobs

Seasonal jobs returned to the Pittsburgh region in April, but a snap back to a pre-pandemic economy remains elusive, according the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area gained 15,200 jobs from March to April 2021 — a 1.4 percent gain, according to the BLS. “It’s …

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Pittsburgh Real Estate

The Terminal, stretching five blocks along Smallman Street, had just been given a stunning makeover when COVID-19 arrived, threatening the eateries and shops it courted as tenants. Months later, the 95-year-old former hub of Pittsburgh’s wholesale produce industry remains a hot real estate property that has attracted tenants throughout the pandemic, including District Brew Yards, …

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Unemployment Stable but Labor Force Shrinks

Unemployment in the Pittsburgh region held steady in March, but the local workforce continued to contract as it has throughout the pandemic. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 7.5 percent from February to March 2021, according to data from the state Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Information & …

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New Paradigm

In 1889, Andrew Carnegie, whose immense wealth was earned along the banks of Pittsburgh’s rivers, called upon his peers to direct their fortunes toward the public good. In “The Gospel of Wealth,” he pitched “an ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the …

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Region Adds Jobs, but Growth Is Slow

Employers in the Pittsburgh region added workers to their payrolls in March, but the modest job gains were a weak signal of recovery from the damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area gained about 9,000 jobs from February …

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February Jobs Report: Still Dismal

The Pittsburgh region continued to hemorrhage jobs in February, according recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area lost 82,400 jobs between February 2020 and February 2021, amounting to a 7.8 percent decrease over the year. Job losses in the region exceeded the 6.7 percent average decline …

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Pittsburgh Region’s Labor Force Shrinks Dramatically (and Unemployment Rises)

The Pittsburgh region’s unemployment rate climbed and thousands of workers in the region left the labor force in January as the COVID-19 pandemic continued batter the local economy. Unemployment rose from 6.8 percent in December to 7.6 percent in January, Pennsylvania labor data suggests. The January increase is more dramatic when compared to January 2020, …

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Jobs Report Bleak

Job losses in the Pittsburgh region continued to mount in January, and revised data reveal that the troubling losses experienced across industry sectors last year were worse than first reported, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area lost about 85,000 jobs between January 2020 and January 2021 — …

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Baby Boom, or Bust?

After a major power blackout left New York City in the dark in 1965, the New York Times suggested it led to a citywide baby boom, citing a surge in births at local hospitals. After Boston was hit with a blizzard in 1978, the Boston Globe predicted it would result in a baby boom. In …

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Workers Lose Jobs, Labor Force Shrinks

Thousands of workers continued to exit the southwestern Pennsylvania labor force, and the local unemployment rate ticked upward as the pandemic year of 2020 drew to a close. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 6.7 percent in November to 6.8 percent in December 2020, according to the Pennsylvania Department …

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Job Losses Mount

The Pittsburgh region shed more jobs in December, offering further evidence that the local economy’s recovery from the coronavirus recession has slowed. The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area lost 5,300 jobs from November to December last year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. And employers shed 86,300 workers from their payrolls in November …

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Unemployment Drops to 6.5 Percent

The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 7.2 percent in October to 6.5 percent in November, according to Pennsylvania Department of Labor Center for Workforce Information & Analysis program data. “The unemployment rate is high, but not exceptional,” said Chris Briem, regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh Center for …

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Jobs Climb Slowly in November

Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area added 1,300 jobs to their payrolls from October 2020 to November 2020. But the bump in hiring still left the region 85,900 jobs short of the number on the books in November 2019, which is a 7.3 percent decline, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. …

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Unemployment Drops Again in October

The seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent in September to 7.2 percent in October, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor Center for Workforce Information & Analysis program. “7.2 percent is high, but is not extraordinary,” said Chris Briem, regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh …

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Pittsburgh Jobs Creep Back in October

Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area added 11,900 jobs from September to October, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the gains are encouraging, it remains a bruising year in terms of local payrolls. The Pittsburgh region lost about 86,000 jobs between October 2019 and October 2020—a 7.1 percent …

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It’s Hard to Eat Healthy

“Ba da ba ba ba.” in 2003, faced with slumping sales, McDonald’s commissioned a jingle. The fast-food giant recruited the era’s biggest music producer, Pharrell Williams, and pop icon Justin Timberlake to create “I’m Lovin’ It.”  The catchy hook became the heart of McDonald’s first worldwide campaign. It was sung in 20 languages throughout 120 …

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Regional Unemployment Falls to 8.2 Percent

Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area dipped to 8.2 percent in September—a drop of 2.4 percentage points from August, according to data from Pennsylvania Department of Labor Center for Workforce Information & Analysis program. Despite the improvement, unemployment in the region remained well above pre-pandemic levels. In September 2019, the unemployment rate was …

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Domestic Abuse Concerns Rise as the Pandemic Drags On

As the coronavirus gripped the world in the spring, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned of another “shadow” pandemic that could not be slowed by masks or hand washing. “We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19, but they can trap women with abusive partners,” Guterres said on April 5. “Over the past …

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