Federal employees and contractors affected by the government shutdown face their first payday without pay Friday and the first snow storm of the season. About 145,000 of the 360,000 federal workers in the Washington area have been furloughed and many thousands of contractors and small businesses have seen their income streams dry up.
Temperatures are well below normal through much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions and stormy weather is expected to move into the area by the weekend. VDOT crews have been pre-treating major highways in the area, although traffic is somewhat lighter than usual, thanks to the shutdown.
Among those working without pay are Transportation Security Agency workers and air traffic controllers. Air travel has been operating normally during the shutdown and travelers passing through Washington Dulles International Airport this week have reported front-line TSA employees have seemed friendlier than usual, perhaps because so many travelers have been thanking them for staying on the job.
“Normally, if you try to make conversation, they shut you down but they were really friendly today. One TSA lady even told me she liked my dog and had a similar one at home,” said one traveler who boarded a flight for Los Angeles Tuesday.
While federal employees are likely to be paid retroactively once the shutdown ends, the same isn’t true of some contractors. The situation is even worse for small business people who rely on the swarms of federal workers for their income. Food truck, restaurants and coffee shops have all been hit hard by the shutdown, which has left much of downtown D.C. nearly deserted.
Agencies and businesses are offering help to furloughed workers. Among them:
- Fairfax County services have not yet been impacted by the shutdown, and Health and Human Services agencies are continuing to operate as normal to connect families and individuals to county and community-based resources to assist them in meeting their needs (including food, utility and rent assistance). Those in need should contact Coordinated Services Planning at 703-222-0880, TTY 711, for assistance. Our staff will help connect you to resources that can aid you during this time.
- Fairfax County Public Schools are recruiting furloughed feds to work as substitute teachers.
- AT&T said it is offering flexible payment plans to federal workers affected by the closure.