Business & Economy

A Black McDonalds employee looks out from a drive-through window wearing a branded mask
Paul Sableman

Union membership in the United States is at a record low. About 10% of workers nationwide are currently union members, and only 2.7% of workers in North Carolina are unionized, which places the state second-to-last in the nation.

The N95 mask, made by 3M.
3M

This past spring, as stockpiles of personal protective equipment ran dry, North Carolina spent more than $220 million on various supplies, sometimes at a hefty markup.

Liquor, Whiskey
BJ McCray, via Creative Commons

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Monday making it easier for businesses to sell alcohol without customers having to show up in person for their purchase.


Kane Realty/Gensler


This week the Raleigh City Council approved rezoning for Downtown South, a $2.2 billion development project that will bring shops, housing and a soccer stadium to southeast Raleigh. The space was previously zoned as an industrial district. Downtown South’s mixed-use zoning clearance is just an early step in the project’s progress.

Rendering of the proposed Downtown South development in south Raleigh.
Downtown South / Gensler

Developers for the massive Downtown South project in Raleigh received a critical rezoning approval by the City Council on Tuesday, just days before they say they would have abandoned the project.

The new zoning opens the door to massive development of 145 acres of mostly undeveloped land along South Saunders Street. When fully built out, Downtown South could include millions of square feet of office and retail, thousands of residential units and hundreds of hotel rooms, all anchored by a 20,000-seat soccer and entertainment stadium.

A bipartisan group of housing experts and policymakers says extending state or federal eviction moratoriums won't be enough to avert a national crisis in the new year. On Tuesday, the group called for state and federal financial aid.

Researchers estimate at least 7 million households nationwide are at risk of eviction after Jan. 1. That's when a federal moratorium on evictions ends and extended unemployment benefits expire.

In North Carolina, as many as 300,000 evictions are possible, said Rick Glazier, executive director of the North Carolina Justice Center.

A glass store front with the words 'Black Owned Business' in silver, bold letters. The words are enclosed in a rectangle on the glass, the same exact color as the words
Paul Sableman/Flickr

When the first wave of federal COVID-19 provisions became available to businesses in April, Black business owners received a very small amount of relief funding. And the North Carolina Business Council estimates the number of Black businesses in the state has decreased by 41 percent since the beginning of the pandemic. There are several reasons for this, including the racial wage and generational wealth gaps, both of which contribute to Black businesses starting up with lower capital and struggling to sustain themselves without economic relationships with banks and other wealth-holding institutions.

Rendering of the proposed Downtown South development in south Raleigh.
Downtown South / Gensler

The ambitious multi-billion dollar development proposed for south Raleigh was hit with another blow Tuesday when the Raleigh Planning Commission unanimously denied the application.

The Raleigh City Council still has final say, and will consider the proposal after a Dec. 15 public hearing.

Grant Holub-Moorman


Harris Teeter or Food Lion? Earth Fare or Ingles? Lowes Foods or Lowe’s lumber yard? Groceries matter a lot to North Carolinians. And for good reason — our state produced some groundbreaking supermarket chains. From the end of the independent butcher shop to the racial integration of the checkout aisle, businesses experimented and changed the course of how we get our food.

Host Anita Rao lingers in the aisle with grocery scholars and independent grocers to learn about the suburban supermarket and alternative foodscape futures.

Her guests are:

A person with a wagon filled with baskets of red apples, one brown basket of apples fell off the wagon and there are 5 people jumping on the ground to attempt and pick up the fallen apples
Market Reports, Illustrated circa 1905

The inventor of gross domestic product — the sum of all goods and services of a particular nation — warned that it was not a good measurement of human welfare. Yet, since the 1940s, the single number has dominated policy recommendations, despite those foundational shortcomings. A recent report highlights the economic contributions and costs that GDP fails to take into account.

Small businesses in the East Gate Shopping Center in Chapel Hill.
Laura Candler

The pandemic is likely dampening the usual Black Friday excitement.

A High Point University survey this month found fewer North Carolinians are planning on shopping Friday than last year.


A picture of sweet potatoes.
Llez / Wikipedia

The sweet potato is North Carolina's state vegetable and it’s a cornerstone of agriculture in the Tar Heel State.

No state produces or exports more of the vegetable than North Carolina does, making it the No. 1 producer of sweet potatoes in the nation.

Furniture out on the sidewalk in front of a red brick building
70023venus2009 / Flickr / CC

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium protects North Carolina tenants from evictions until the end of the year. Any tenant can provide their landlord with a declaration form that attests they are unable to pay their rent and at risk of homelessness.

Even With Protections, Thousands Face Eviction

Nov 17, 2020
Stephanie Wilder of Durham, Protest
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

At 9:40 a.m. on Sept. 30, Mecklenburg County sheriff's deputies showed up at Leegraciea Lewis' apartment door. Lewis hadn't changed into her day clothes yet.

A graphic of an Asian woman, colored red with a white mask, holding a baby colored yellow, against a blue background.
Pixabay

In September, 865,000 women left the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Eighty percent of the people who stopped working or looking for work that month were women. It’s no coincidence that this large drop out happened around the same time that the fall semester began: data confirms that mothers disproportionately shoulder the burden of childcare, supervising virtual learning and domestic work. 

A group of five people standing together: one Black woman, three Black men and one white man.
Phil Cohen

He found his calling in a liberal college town, but no university degrees were needed for the fights Phil Cohen would go on to pick with union busters. 

an eviction notice on a front door
Steve Rhodes / Creative Commons/http://bit.ly/2HmJ9nV

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Wednesday preventing landlords from evicting tenants who are unable to pay their rent.

Apartment balconies in Raleigh, NC.
Brandon Griggs / Unsplash / creative commons

Voters in Raleigh are deciding on what would be the largest housing bond in the city's history. 

NC Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services

For over a century, Black farmers have faced challenges in securing federal and local funding to aid their farms in times of need and during crises. COVID-19 has been no different. From lack of access to information about coronavirus relief provisions for farmers to difficulty finding spaces to safely vend during the crisis, the pandemic has made obstacles even more stark.

Olga Lopez, department superior, blowing and stuffing department, turns the material right sided before it is stuffed at Piedmont Furniture Industries Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Ramseur, N.C.
Lynn Hey / For WUNC

Business is booming for the furniture industry — especially home furnishings.

It's a stark contrast to the number of businesses that have had to permanently close and lay off staff as the world is in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Black woman holding a megaphone and wearing a crown in New York City
Courtesy of SX Noir

Working from home looks a little different for sex workers. With most strip clubs closed and dancers excluded from larger pots of money in the coronavirus relief package, the sex trade has  largely gone online. From strippers to erotic masseuses to full service workers, virtual sex work required innovation. 

Craig James / Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/thewidewideworld/45760403542/

The United States Golf Association announced Wednesday it will move its equipment testing center and other offices to North Carolina as part of a $36 million investment within the iconic golfing village of Pinehurst.

A Black McDonalds employee looks out from a drive-through window wearing a branded mask
Paul Sableman

Union membership in the United States is at a record low. About 10% of workers nationwide are currently union members, and only 2.7% of workers in North Carolina are unionized, which places the state second-to-last in the nation.

Many coastal North Carolina vacation rental companies say it's been a busy summer despite the coronavirus pandemic, and they're not expecting a slowdown any time soon.

Governor Roy Cooper in a candid photo wearing his black face mask where he gives coronavirus briefings.
File Photo, Courtesy Governor Roy Cooper Twitter

North Carolina’s Democratic governor announced Friday that he will sign a Republican-authored plan Friday to spend $1.1 billion of the state’s remaining federal COVID-19 relief funds on aid to families with children, unemployment benefits and efforts to fight the virus.

A laundry basket sits on a coffee table.
Sean Freese/Creative Commons

For months, families have been quarantining together during the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has forced parents and partners to rethink everything, from division of household chores and childcare duties to work-from-home needs and whether or not a job that cannot be performed remotely is even worth keeping, if childcare is unavailable or unaffordable. 

RISMedia

Owning your first home is a rite of passage — a marker of true adulthood. For those privileged enough to buy a house, it is often the first step in building wealth. But millennials are not achieving that milestone at the same rate that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers did at their age. 

Enayet Raheem / Unsplash/ Creative Commons

North Carolina is at risk of losing more than $5.3 billion in federal funding because of a low response rate to the U.S. Census. The managers of the state's population estimates say North Carolina is also at risk of not gaining a 14th congressional seat. 

Furniture sitting on a sidewalk curb
CC/Flickr

As of this Monday, Aug. 24, tenants in federally-subsidized housing are facing eviction, homelessness and increased vulnerability to COVID-19. More than just Section 8 public housing, the CARES Act moratorium on evictions that expired July 24 applied to many private rental companies and private landlords with federally-backed mortgage loans. 

Lighthouse
Courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Vacation rentals in North Carolina were booked at higher rates in 2020 than in the past two years, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

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