As the government shutdown finishes its second week, many Americans are feeling the pain.
Paychecks getting hit
Furlough days sliced $600 from Tammy Woodard’s paycheck as a contracting specialist at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The mom of two-year-old twins needs that money to pay for daycare and doctor visits for her sons Levi and Preston. Also, the mounting furlough days, from both the sequester and the shutdown, has made it tough to earn more paid time off to take her boys to doctor appointments. “It’s not just taking money out of my paycheck, it’s hurting my ability to accrue the leave I need to meet the medical needs of my children,” she said.
Pete Randazzo, an information technologist at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif., said his paycheck was at least $900 lighter this week, the result of federal workers not being paid during the shutdown. There are some 2 million federal employees whose paychecks are impacted, and for many this is the first pay period to show the hit. While many may ultimately get the money they’re owed, for now they are having to make do with checks that are up to 40% smaller than they’re used to.
On Friday, Linda Williams plans on filing her unemployment application — the first time she’s been without a job since starting with the federal government in 1979. “My next paycheck is next week, and until they come to some terms of agreement in Congress, that’ll be the last paycheck I’ll get,” said Williams, an investigator with the food stamp division of the USDA. “I can’t ever say I had enough income where I didn’t have to worry about my next paycheck, and in the face of this it’s an even greater concern.” Williams now worries she may have to apply for food stamps herself.
Businesses in a pinch
Oklahoma-based Chloeta fire, a private firm that contracts with the government to fight wildfires, has laid off over half its 20-person staff since the shutdown began. If the government doesn’t start paying its invoices, the firm will be left with a “pretty severe financial problem,” said owner Mark Masters.
Last week Newport, Wash., roofing contractor John Skoog was worried that he wouldn’t be able to attend a government pitch session because the shutdown had prevented his firm from becoming certified for government work. Turns out it didn’t matter: the session itself was cancelled due to the closure. Skoog said he now has little other revenue coming in, and will have to scramble for new contracts in the private sector.
Others have not been hit as hard as they feared.
In Maggie Valley, N.C., business at the Johnathan Creek Inn is about 15% lower than owner Jeff Smith anticipated. But that’s not as bad as the 25% drop in revenue Smith first feared as travelers cancelled reservations in light of the shutdown, which closed nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Smith said it’s still possible to drive through the park, which he suspects is still bringing people to the area. Plus, he and his staff have worked hard to highlight other nearby attractions.
Melanie Rhodes thought she’d have to give up her new job as a school bus driver to take care of her son when his Bridgeport, Conn., Head Start program closed. But thanks to a $10 million loan from a wealthy donor, as well as money from some states, the 12 Head Start programs nationwide that ran out of money on the first of the month have been able to stay open until November — keeping over 9,000 children in school. “I was very happy, even though its just one month,” said Rhodes. “Now I’m hoping and praying that Congress will stop thinking about themselves and think about us for a change.”
CNNMoney’s Jennifer Liberto, Parija Kavilanz and Blake Ellis contributed to this report