And regardless of whether they’re working in-person or remotely, federal workers in D.C. and the suburbs may need to tighten their spending, something that could mean an added challenge for local businesses already reeling from the pandemic.
“That’s a lot of purchasing power you’re pulling out of the economy,” Clower said.
What can we learn from recent history about how past shutdowns impacted the D.C. region? In the 2018-2019 partial shutdown, the D.C. region lost $1.6 billion of economic activity during the majority of the closure. The economic impact was felt for a long time. Some wages were eventually paid back, but it still had a lasting effect. The D.C. government was forced to intervene to remove the garbage that had accumulated on the Mall.
During a partial shutdown of the government, a trashcan overflowed in this photo. The D.C. Government cleaned up the overflowing garbage in the area controlled by the Department. Interior Department as National Park Land.
In this photo taken during the partial shutdown of the government, people are sitting outside a trashcan that is overflowing. The D.C. Government cleaned up the overflowing garbage in the area controlled by the Department. Interior as National Park Land.
And those impacts were the result of a
government shutdown, not a full one, because Congress had already passed some spending bills by the time the closure happened. This included funding for the Department of Defense which represents about 12% of federal spending. This year, Congress still has not passed any appropriations legislation, which means that the federal government will be shut down. Last time this happened, the shutdown lasted 16 days in 2013. According to some estimates, the D.C. area lost $220,000,000 in economic activity each day. The fact that congressional disruptions can affect defense spending is important in the D.C. area, especially in Virginia. Virginia receives the most federal defense funding per capita. The Pentagon is located in Arlington, Va. and Northern Virginia has many government agencies and defense contractors involved with national security. In the Hampton Roads region, 15 military bases are located, including Naval Station Norfolk – the largest naval base on earth. According to one estimate, federal defense funding directly or indirectly supports almost 900,000. This will affect federal employees in a major way?
Government departments have a tried-and-true response when Congress withholds funding: They each develop a plan on how to react when the money stops flowing. They determine which work (and which workers) are “essential” for the everyday functioning of the country, and which ones are “non-essential.”
This file photo shows people waiting in a TSA queue at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on June 28, 2022. TSA workers and air traffic control operators, both part of the Federal Aviation Administration, would be considered essential workers in a government shutdown and continue to work without pay.
[or other economic activities]
In the photo below, people are waiting in a TSA queue at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on June 28, 2022. TSA and airtraffic controllers, as part of the Federal Aviation Administration, would both be considered “essential workers” and continue to work without pay during a government shutdown.
“Essential employees” — border patrol guards and TSA agents as well as active-duty military personnel, national security personnel, etc. — are expected at work but do not receive a paycheque. Furloughs are imposed on “non-essential employees” until the shutdown is over. In D.C. there are many white-collar workers who are well paid, but the majority of government employees are low-wage earners. It’s difficult to survive in D.C. without a paycheck that arrives on time. Rent and mortgage payments are behind and people struggle to pay for medicine and food. During previous shutdowns, there were long lines at food pantries and local unemployment offices.
“If we’re going to have this series of political events where, just for show, we’re going to shut down the government for a period of time, somebody’s thinking, ‘Hang on a second, why do I want to mess with that? “If we’re going to have this series of political events where, just for show, we’re going to shut down the government for a period of time, somebody is thinking – ‘Hang on a second. Why do I want that? Some will, others won’t. It’s a new thing that federal workers will receive back pay at some point. Congress passed a law in 2019 that guarantees that furloughed workers or those who are essential will receive their back pay “as quickly as possible” after the end of the budget lapse. This law was passed largely due to the financial impact the shutdown had on workers.
But, government contractors – who are even more numerous than direct government employees – don’t have this assurance. This is because government contractors are employed by companies that provide services to federal government and not the government. Some contractors earn a lot of money, as they work in consulting roles with large companies who do business with government. Many contractors, however, are low-wage employees, such as janitors in federal buildings, cafeteria staff, and security guards. Sometimes they’re even laid off. What kind of help do federal employees need during shutdownsIn previous years, local governments and social services in the D.C. area have stepped up to provide food, mortgage and rent assistance, as well as other assistance. It’s the same role that they played during the pandemic, creating networks of local agencies and nonprofits to respond to public needs. “We’re not in the same position as we were last year in terms of infrastructure,” said Jeff McKay. He is the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County. Fairfax County has more than one million residents and is a suburb of Washington, D.C. McKay said that the local budgets were tight due to the ongoing recovery of COVID.