AP

Federal workers get $0 pay stubs as shutdown drags on

Jan 13, 2019, 11:22 AM
federal...
Government workers and their supporters hold signs during a protest in Boston, Friday, Jan.11, 2019. (Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP)
(Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP)

Federal employees received pay stubs with nothing but zeros on them Friday as the effects of the government shutdown hit home, deepening anxieties about mortgage payments and unpaid bills.

All told, an estimated 800,000 government workers missed their paychecks for the first time since the shutdown began.

Employees posted pictures of the pay statements on Twitter and vented their frustration as the standoff over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall entered its 21st day. This weekend, it will become the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

“I saw the zeros in my pay stub today, and it’s a combination of reality setting in and just sadness,” air traffic controller Josh Maria told The Associated Press after tweeting a screenshot of his paystub. “We’re America. We can do better than this.”

The missed paychecks were just one sign of the mounting toll the shutdown is taking on Americans’ daily lives. The Miami airport is closing a terminal this weekend because security screeners have been calling in sick at twice the normal rate. Homebuyers are experiencing delays in getting their loans.

Roughly 420,000 federal employees were deemed essential and are working unpaid. An additional 380,000 are staying home without pay. While furloughed federal workers have been given back pay in previous shutdowns, there is no guarantee that will happen this time.

Workers are turning to Uber, Lyft and other side gigs to pick up some money in the meantime.

Ellen Jackson, a Transportation Security Administration officer based in Las Vegas, is driving full time for a ride-share company to get by. The 59-year-old is planning to retire in April.

“I don’t want to borrow any money,” said Jackson, an Air Force veteran who said she makes about $38,000 a year as a TSA officer. “I don’t want to get into a deeper hole.”

Fellow Las Vegas-based TSA agent Julia Peters applied for food stamps on Thursday and was approved. She said five of the eight other applicants at the benefits office were also TSA workers.

In Falls Church, Virginia, outside Washington, a school district held a hiring fair for furloughed federal employees interested in working as substitute teachers.

Gerri French, who works for the Department of Agriculture’s Food Inspection Service and has been furloughed along with her husband, liked the sound of substitute teaching. “I think it’s a really great school system, and this would be a great opportunity,” French said.

Chris George, 48, of Hemet, California, has picked up work as a handyman, turned to a crowdfunding site to raise cash and started driving at Lyft after being furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the U.S. Forest Service.

But the side gigs aren’t making much difference, and he has been trying to work with his mortgage company to avoid missing a payment.

“Here we are, Day 21, and all three parties cannot even negotiate like adults,” he said, describing government workers like him as “being pawns for an agenda of a wall. You’re not going to put a wall across the Rio Grande, I’m sorry.”

Economists at S&P Global said the shutdown has cost the U.S. economy $3.6 billion so far.

The typical federal employee makes $37 an hour, which translates into $1,480 a week, according to Labor Department data. That’s nearly $1.2 billion in lost pay each week, when multiplied by 800,000 federal workers.

Many workers live paycheck to paycheck, despite the strong economy and the ultra-low unemployment rate. A Federal Reserve survey in May found that 40 percent of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to make a $400 emergency payment.

Government workers are scaling back spending, canceling trips, applying for unemployment benefits and taking out loans to stay afloat.

Maria, based in Washington, was already in a financially precarious situation because of two cross-country moves in 2018 and the birth of a premature son. The shutdown has made matters much worse.

“I’m just not paying certain bills. Car payments are being delayed, which is going to put a hit on the credit,” he said. “Credit card payments are being delayed.”

Maria took out a personal loan last week just in case. Now he is pulling his 4-year-old daughter out of day care and telling his 7-year-old son he cannot sign up for extracurricular activities.

Most of the government workers received their last paycheck two weeks ago. Around the country, some workers are relying on donations, including launching GoFundMe campaigns. Food pantries have opened up in several locations.

First Oklahoma Bank in suburban Tulsa is waiving overdraft fees for customers who are federal employees.

In Denver, three-quarters of the people who visited the Food Bank of the Rockies’ mobile pantry on Friday were first-time visitors and furloughed federal employees, said Cait Barnett, a marketing specialist for the food bank.

In Massachusetts, a private group has stepped up to ensure that those working at local Coast Guard stations have food and clothing. Don Cox, president of the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, said the nonprofit group has opened up centers at Coast Guard stations in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island.

The group is helping feed 500 to 600 families a day, about double the typical demand, Cox said.

“We’ve been doing this for 10 years. This is my fourth shutdown,” he said. “I wish the senators and the congressmen weren’t taking their paychecks. I’d feel a lot better then.”

Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado said she will not take her paycheck as long as federal workers are unpaid. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, another Colorado Democrat, said his staff will offer free breakfasts and lunches to unpaid federal workers at his district office in suburban Denver.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

quit their jobs...
PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

US added a strong 517,000 jobs in January despite Fed hikes

The Fed is aiming to achieve a "soft landing" — a pullback in the economy that is enough to tame high inflation without triggering recession.
3 days ago
Thousands of fraudulent nursing diplomas  were dispersed in Florida. (Canva)...
Associated Press via Miami Herald

Fake nursing diploma scheme in Florida; 25 arrested

The defendants each face up to 20 years in prison.
4 days ago
Microsoft is cutting 10,000 workers, almost 5% of its workforce, in response to "macroeconomic cond...
MATT O'BRIEN, Associated Press

Job cuts in tech sector spread, Microsoft lays off 10,000

Microsoft said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that had just notified employees of the layoffs, some of which begin immediately.
19 days ago
exxon mobil sign pictured...
SETH BORENSTEIN and CATHY BUSSEWITZ Associated Press

Study: Exxon Mobil accurately predicted warming since 1970s

Exxon said its understanding of climate change evolved over the years and that critics are misunderstanding its earlier research.
25 days ago
FILE - Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, stand on the roof of the...
The Associated Press

Brazil and Jan. 6 in US: Parallel attacks, but not identical

RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — Enraged protesters broke into government buildings that are the very symbol of their country’s democracy. Driven by conspiracy theories about their candidate’s loss in the last election, they smashed windows, sifted through the desks of lawmakers and trashed the highest offices in the land in a rampage that lasted hours […]
27 days ago
President Joe Biden pictured...
ZEKE MILLER AP White House Correspondent

DOJ reviewing potentially classified docs at Biden center

Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said “a small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered at the offices of the Penn Biden Center.
28 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Federal workers get $0 pay stubs as shutdown drags on