Business & Economy

fernando zhiminaicela / Pixabay

North Carolina's governor says that the first coronavirus-related unemployment payments will be paid starting next week as the state is flooded with tens of thousands of claims.

Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Workers around the state say their employers aren't doing enough to protect them from the coronavirus pandemic.

That includes sanitation workers in Raleigh who are demanding that the city do more to protect them following the death of a colleague from COVID-19.

Construction workers using Robotic-Assist Devices
Carolinas Associated General Contractors / Twitter

Groups that represent hospitals and doctors are pushing for Governor Roy Cooper to order a shelter-in-place.

But the North Carolina Chamber has said such an order should be a "last-ditch resort." And industries like real estate and construction want the governor to consider them essential during the coronavirus pandemic and allow them to keep running.

A young soccer fan poses for a photo in front of a giant inflatable soccer ball outside of WakeMed Soccer Park prior to the NCAA Women's College Cup final between Penn State and Duke in Cary, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015.
Ben McKeown / AP

Wake County is now North Carolina's largest county, the U.S. Census Bureau said on Thursday as its annual population estimates show the county containing Raleigh surpassing Mecklenburg County.

The census said Wake County had an estimated 1,111,761 people as of July 1, with Mecklenburg close behind at 1,110,356. The July 2018 estimates by the census had Mecklenburg ahead of Wake by roughly 2,500 people.


Mar 24, 2020

Today: Crashing.

We are now in week two of social distancing, and the economy is in free fall. That has the president and others wavering on the measures that medical personnel say will save lives. That dispute, between the illness and the pain caused by the remedy, is real, but it affects people unevenly.

We speak with WUNC reporter Jason deBruyn about unemployment and the short-term future of the North Carolina economy, and we offer an appreciation for the doctor leading the UNC System.

A sign directs customers to remain in their cars at Trophy Brewing on Morgan Street in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Like thousands of service-sector workers across the state, Joe Smith said he's scared.

Smith has lived in Durham for seven years. He worked in front of house customer service at Joe Van Gogh, and for the past 18 months at the Cafe at Smith Warehouse and Geer Street Garden. But he suddenly found himself unemployed after Governor Roy Cooper ordered all restaurants to cease dine-in services as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper, center, and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.
Governor's Office / Twitter

North Carolina's state April 15 tax filing deadline has been pushed back by three months due to the new coronavirus, the Department of Revenue announced.

United States Senator Richard Burr
Richard Burr / Twitter

Facing public outrage, senators in both political parties denied Friday that they exploited advance knowledge when they dumped stocks and other financial holdings before the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the economy.

The Durham Farmers' Market is closed due to coronavirus
Durham Farmers' Market

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel has shut down gyms and theaters as of 5 p.m. Friday, to curtail the spread of coronavirus.  

The mayor announced Friday afternoon that he would also be canceling the city's farmers' market for tomorrow. It just draws too big a crowd when health officials are urging people to keep a safe distance, he said.

I-5 Design & Manufacture / flickr, creative commons,

Credit unions and banks across the state are closing lobbies and using only drive-up windows during this coronavirus outbreak.

An employee at White Street Brewing Company in Wake Forest, N.C., fills a "crowler" can of beer on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. With bars ordered close due to coronavirus, brewers are making sure their customers can enjoy some fresh suds.
Allen G. Breed / AP

Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. But with the new coronavirus popping up all over the country, a trip to your favorite tap room isn't in the offing. So breweries are stepping up, offering curbside growlers to stave off the grumbling.

A business along Franklin Street in Chapel Hill displays a closed sign as a result of the coronavirus Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Gov. Roy Cooper earlier today mandated all bars and restaurants in North Carolina close to encourage social distancing.
Gerry Broome / AP

Unemployment benefit requests in North Carolina surged this week due to the new coronavirus as business activity slowed and a ban on dining-in at restaurants and bars began.

The state Division of Employment Security said the number of claims in which people blamed COVID-19 for their layoffs or for reduced hours surpassed 4,700 by Wednesday morning. In North Carolina's recent robust economy -- the January jobless rate was 3.6% -- the number of overall claims has been roughly 3,500 per week, said Larry Parker, a division spokesman. Similar surges are occurring in other states.


Confirmed COVID-19 cases are concentrated in North Carolina’s urban centers up to now, but more rural areas are also feeling the economic and social ripples of the coronavirus pandemic. In North Carolina’s poorest county, the threat of economic recession looms greater than the disease itself. 

Courtesy of Clay Johnson

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life for most North Carolinians as state and federal officials encourage people to stay in their homes and practice social distancing. Many employers are enforcing strict work-from-home policies, and Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all North Carolina schools to close for two weeks. 

Kevin Wang, the owner of Jade Palace restaurant in Carrboro, outside of the resaturant.
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

The rise of coronavirus cases in North Carolina, and mitigation efforts to slow its spread, are affecting businesses and individuals across the state.

In Carrboro and Chapel Hill, those in the service industry are trying to cope with the drastic slump in business and many people are making changes to protect themselves and others.

Downtown Raleigh
Mark Turner / Wikipedia

Public health concerns over COVID-19 could mean reduced customer traffic for small businesses in North Carolina cities and towns. Economic development boosters are trying to help.

Public Domain / pxhere

The South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation has received permission from the federal government to build a casino and resort on land over the border in North Carolina.

Sharon Collins and Pat Garavaglia co-own Balloons and Tunes in Carrboro. After weathering 40 years in business, they're worried about what impact the coronavirus will have on their event-based store.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

As universities and corporations cancel events and people stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some small businesses are already suffering from the economic impact of the virus.

Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET

Stock indexes tumbled so fast Monday that trading on the New York Stock Exchange was halted temporarily for the first time since October 1997. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2,013 points as fears grew over the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic. The blue chip index fell nearly 7.8%, and the S&P 500 dropped 7.6%.

It was the worst day for the market since 2008, during the financial crisis.

Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina's first case of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)  was confirmed today. Yet the state's manufacturing and agriculture industries were struggling to cope with disturbances in their supply chain weeks ago.

Rising flood waters brought on by Hurricane Florence threaten a building off highway 70 in Goldsboro, N.C., Sunday, Sep. 16, 2018.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC


A North Carolina man who admitted that he never completed repair work he was hired to do after Hurricane Florence has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the scam, a district attorney said.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The McClatchy Company — which owns The News & Observer, The Herald-Sun and The Charlotte Observer — declared bankruptcy this month.While North Carolina’s printing presses will continue rolling, the papers’ offices will likely reorganize under a private equity firm’s management.

File photo of soybeans beginning to sprout on a farm in Nashville, North Carolina, on Thursday, May 16, 2019.
Madeline Gray / For WUNC

North Carolina's winter weather has been unpredictable -- swinging quickly from spring-like temperatures to snow and back. If that continues, those extreme swings could affect farmers.

Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $3 billion to settle charges that the bank engaged in fraudulent sales practices for more than a decade.

The company acknowledged collecting millions of dollars in fees for bank accounts, debit cards and other products that customers neither asked for nor needed. The illegal practices were carried out by thousands of Wells Fargo employees in order to meet unrealistic sales targets.

The Appalachian Trail – the 2,200-mile hiking stretch that goes from Georgia to Maine — is at the center of a legal battle that has risen to the Supreme Court.

The case involves a proposed pipeline that would connect natural gas fracked in West Virginia to population centers in Virginia and North Carolina. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross the Appalachian Trail within the George Washington National Forest in Virginia, and some environmental groups are challenging the legality of the permit the U.S. Forest Service issued allowing that to happen.

Newspaper circulation has been shrinking
Photo Illustration by Jason deBruyn / WUNC

The publisher of the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and dozens of other newspapers across the country is filing for bankruptcy protection.

A rendering of the indoor sports complex proposed for Cary Towne Center.
Town of Cary

Cary leaders want to redevelop the aging Cary Towne Center and say a proposed $193 million indoor sports facility might be just the ticket.

Courtesy of Jessica Yinka Thomas

Jessica Yinka Thomas grew up in both the United States and West Africa. Her father, a Nigerian economics professor, and her mother, an American computer scientist, raised their four kids between Miami, Nigeria, Senegal and eventually Maryland to get them ready for college in the states.

Frankie Leon

Earlier this week, Earth Fare suddenly announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy, surprising its 3,000 employees who are still awaiting the details of their severance packages. The closure was unexpected even for founder Roger Derrough, who sold the company in 2007. / NC General Assembly

North Carolina state government coffers are more flush than in recent memory as 2020 begins as tax collections again are beating projections and hundreds of millions of dollars aren't being spent due to a lengthy budget impasse.