U.S. President Donald Trump has overseen a partial government shutdown since December 22, 2018. It is the longest shutdown in American history. President Trump revealed that the closure will continue for months or even years until he secures the $5 billion request in funding for the Mexico-US border wall.
According to New York University public service professor Paul Light, approximately 800,000 federal workers are suffering from the government shutdown. About 420,000 employees are working without pay, and 380,000 people are not working. The workers affected by the shutdown remain stuck in financial limbo.
To stay afloat, government workers have been withdrawing money from their savings or rely on credit cards and other funds to survive the furloughs. Because of the shutdown, people are suffering from food insecurity and cannot afford their basic necessities. The shutdown shines a light on how many federal government employees live paycheck to paycheck.
The shutdown also negatively impacts the economy. Private contracting firms all over the country are experiencing declines in sales and workforce. Technology companies like Microsoft can suffer because some parts of the company depend on the government for revenue. Airport security, which comes from private firms, may also be a part of the employees that are not receiving paychecks.
Low wage earners are not the only Americans suffering the effects of the government shutdown. CareerBuilder revealed that 10% of employees with salaries of $100,000 and higher are also living paycheck to paycheck. The figures show that the affected workers prioritize expenses over saving. 50% of the respondents save below $100 a month while 61% of Americans have yet to cover at least six months’ worth of expenses in their emergency fund.
Besides the savings, workers are also struggling in debt. Over 70% of the respondents revealed that they are in debt. And 25% of those in debt fail to pay off their debt and make ends meet for every month of the past year.
President Trump’s shutdown passed the 21-day record by the Clinton administration, making it the longest-ever government shutdown in America. However, there are no signs that federal workers will soon find relief. President Trump remains insistent on building a border wall at any cost, even if it is detrimental to American employees across the country.
While federal employees may receive back pay for their days out of work, over 4 million contractors will not receive compensation due to the contract-based style of their job. Many of these contractors may try to look for other posts to support their families.
Fortunately, some businesses are trying to help furloughed workers through their trying times by offering free meals and extending offers. Cellphone companies AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile will waive late fees for workers affected by the shutdown. Banks such as Chase, American Express, and Citi are offering help as well.
The furloughed employees are also trying to make ends meet. There are over 1,800 GoFundMe pages that try to help these workers survive. The way to succeed in the government shutdown is for Americans to unite and try their best to move forward.