Stephan Bisaha

Wealth and Poverty Reporter



Stephan Bisaha is the wealth and poverty reporter for the Gulf States Newsroom, a regional collaboration between NPR and member stations in Alabama (WBHM), Mississippi (MPB) and Louisiana (WWNO and WRKF). He reports on the systemic drivers of poverty in the region and economic development.

Before joining the team, Stephan spent three years as an education reporter for the Kansas News Service, a network of member stations in Kansas. He also spent a year as a Kroc Fellow for NPR, where he did the data analysis for an investigation into the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, produced Weekend Edition and reported in Birmingham.

He was born and raised in New Jersey. His hobbies include cooking, improv and physical fitness.

‘Better isn’t good enough’: Starbucks workers in Birmingham, New Orleans discuss unionizing

Starbucks stores in Birmingham and New Orleans could be the next to unionize. Those leading the efforts sit down to discuss why and what they've learned so far.

The fate of Amtrak’s Mobile to New Orleans line will be decided by these key issues

Amtrak is making its final pitch for a Gulf Coast passenger train line. The private companies that own the tracks the trains would run on, however, oppose it.

Struggling Democrats hope growing union support will provide boost in midterms

With support for unions at its highest point since 1965, Democrats hope they can capitalize on that sentiment as they struggle to connect with voters on other issues.

A year into striking, Alabama coal miners are frustrated but defiant as ever

As the strike in Alabama drags on, coal miners say it’s not just about the money. They’re also fighting for their dignity.

Record-high gas prices are cutting into Alabama drivers’ budgets. Here’s how they’re coping

The added expense affects people in Alabama’s Black Belt differently, including road trippers, commuters and even those who can’t drive.

Why Gulf South oil producers can’t protect the region from rising gas prices

Experts say activating unused oil wells could temper the rising costs of gas, but consumers should not expect prices to get anywhere near their COVID low.

A rodent infestation shut down Family Dollar stores. How one Alabama town is coping

A Family Dollar in York, Alabama is one of the few shopping options in town. But it's shuttered due to a warehouse rodent infestation.

Mississippi’s plan to stop Alabama from stealing its teachers? Pay them thousands more

As Mississippi lawmakers plot how to keep more teachers in the state, educators warn the state’s bill targeting critical race theory could drive them away.

Amtrak’s proposed Mobile-New Orleans line is ‘a bad idea’ for Alabama, officials say

Mississippi wants to move full steam ahead with plans to restore the passenger rail, but Alabama worries the line will disrupt the freight rail.

Mississippi wants more tech jobs. Here’s what it can learn from Alabama’s tech success

Louisiana and Mississippi rank at the bottom nationally when it comes to the percentage of tech jobs in the state workforce. Alabama sits in the middle of the list, mostly because of Huntsville’s Research Park.

How the social safety net has — and hasn’t — changed in 2021 in 5 charts

Updates to SNAP, TANF and the Child Tax Credit have helped families in the Gulf South, but not everyone has been able to access the improved benefits.

Families in need received more from the social safety net in 2021. How helpful was it?

Experts hail changes like the Child Tax Credit and increases in SNAP benefits as historic. But were recipients better off after getting them?

Supply chain issues in California open up a business opportunity for Gulf Coast ports

Southern ports report higher traffic, but problems on the ground keep them from being a true solution to the supply chain tangle.

More renters in the Gulf South face eviction, but states are still slow providing aid

A slowed rollout to federal aid, tedious applications and non-cooperative landlords are just some of the issues renters are now facing a few months after the CDC’s eviction moratorium ended.

Why nearly $910 million meant to prevent evictions in Gulf States has been left unspent

New data shows about $910 million meant to prevent evictions had yet to be used by the end of September in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

As southern workers quit in record number, restaurants struggle to meet demands

Wages have gone up as restaurants try to hold onto their staff amid a record number of people quitting their jobs in the U.S., especially in the South.

Want to help after Hurricane Ida? Southern charities say the best way is giving people cash

Charities in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana say giving people money is faster and gives them back agency. But experts say cash alone can’t solve all the problems after a storm.

Despite Record Number On The Road, Women Truck Drivers Still Face Barriers Getting Into Industry

Experts say trucking can lift women out of poverty, but barriers like lack of access to child care keep them out.

How Historic Food Stamps Boost Will Bring Relief To Southern Families: ‘This Is A Really Big Deal’

Experts say the 25% increase will make huge strides in combating hunger, especially in The South. Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi will get an additional $950 million from SNAP estimated for this next fiscal year.

As The Clock Runs Out On $300 Unemployment Benefits, A New Orleans Waitress Is Left In Limbo

The tips Dora Whitfield earned at Harrah’s Casino covered her bills. But like a lot of workers, returning to work isn’t as simple as following the help wanted signs.

Alabama Coal Workers Strike For Better Wages, Fair Treatment

The strike has gone on for more than two months with no resolution in sight.

How One Utility In The Mississippi Delta Is Using Teamwork To Keep Faucets Flowing

Water providers in some rural communities across the region often fail to deliver clean and reliable water. Black Bayou Water Association is addressing that issue by connecting small utilities.

Will The Gulf Coast Amtrak Line Ever Leave The Station?

Plans for a passenger line connecting New Orleans with Mobile are underway, but opposition from the freight train industry could derail the service – and possibly President Joe Biden’s vision for an Amtrak resurgence.

Big Union Loss At Amazon Warehouse Casts Shadow Over Labor Movement

Last week's overwhelming vote against forming a union at Amazon's Bessemer warehouse was the latest in a string of disappointments for labor unions. Now Amazon employees and union backers are trying to find a way forward.

Alabama Amazon Workers Reject Union, But Organizers Say The Fight Isn’t Over

The union accused Amazon of illegal anti-union tactics and will challenge the results.

Why Alabama Lawmakers Just Won’t Give Up The Grocery Tax

Politicians across the aisle agree that grocery taxes harm low-income families. And yet the tax remains untouched.

What Labor Wins And Losses In The South Can Tell Us About the Amazon Union Vote

The unionization effort at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala. may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a big union win in the South. Yet union organizers had a nearly-identical opportunity just four years ago in Mississippi.

Actor Danny Glover Rallies Support For Unionizing Bessemer Amazon Facility

The "Lethal Weapon" star briefly spoke with workers leaving the facility. He told reporters that the unionization effort in Bessemer is part of a long history of fighting for labor rights.

Birmingham Launches Film Office as State Lags in Big Productions

Birmingham is investing in a new film office, but Alabama still lags behind Georgia in film incentives.

Birmingham’s VA Faces Challenges Keeping Wait Times Down

Wait times have been shrinking at the Birmingham VA after zooming up last year, but challenges with space and hiring still remain.

Vintage Video Games Get An Extra Life

Saturn's Vintage Video Game Night gives gamers an opportunity to replay parts of gaming's past, as well as childhood favorites.

Regions Bank Takes Steps To Be Autism-Friendly

Regions Bank recently announced efforts to make its 1,500 branches autism-friendly. It's something many businesses across the country are doing. But there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach.