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.

In Jackson, Miss., volunteers work hard to bring water to residents who need help

Local nonprofits have been delivering water directly to some residents, but the groups are still working on scaling up to dealing with a problem that stretches across the city.

In Jackson, Miss., football goes on despite the water crisis

Football is a way of life in Jackson, Mississippi. So are boil water notices. The latest water crisis has not stopped fans from filling the stands to support a local college team.

Confrontations between Alabama miners, strikebreakers a part of a rough labor history

Federal labor officials fined the United Mine Workers of America union $13.3 million for, among other things, property damage at the picket lines.

Dollar store workers are organizing for a better workplace. Just don’t call it a union.

Fired up by a labor movement that’s seen big union victories recently, dollar store workers are organizing in their own way to improve work conditions.

How 3 Gulf South country stores are adapting to high inflation: ‘It’s hurt everybody’

General store owners in the Gulf South are — once again — looking for new ways to get by as high inflation becomes the latest threat to their businesses.

Workers at New Orleans Starbucks say yes to unionizing; the 1st in Louisiana

The successful, 11-to-1 vote happened weeks after a former shift supervisor that led the unionization effort was fired by higher management.

With vanpooling, workers and employers find a ‘win-win’ amid a tight labor market, high gas costs

As 2022's economic woes continue, more people are using vanpools as a cost-effective way to get to work. It’s also helping out their employers.

Workers at a Birmingham Starbucks become 1st to unionize in Alabama

Workers at the downtown Birmingham coffee shop cast a near-unanimous vote to become the first Starbucks location in the state to say yes to forming a union.

‘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.