Fed­eral work­ers get $0 pay stubs

The Beaufort Gazette - - News - BY BRADY MCCOMBS AND JULIET LIN­DER­MAN

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

All told, an es­ti­mated 800,000 gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees missed their pay­checks for first time since the shut­down be­gan three weeks ago.

Fum­ing em­ploy­ees posted pictures of the $0 pay stubs on Twit­ter and vented their frus­tra­tion as the stand­off en­tered its 21st day. This week­end, it will be­come the long­est shut­down in U.S. his­tory.

Some Demo­cratic law­mak­ers seized on the empty pay stubs as a way to re­new crit­i­cism of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who trig­gered the shut­down over his de­mands for fund­ing for a bor­der wall.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Vir­ginia tweeted: “It should be pay­day for hun­dreds of thou­sands of fed­eral work­ers. But thanks to Trump, many are ac­tu­ally get­ting pay stubs like this. He’s treat­ing them like the count­less con­trac­tors he stiffed through­out his busi­ness ca­reer.”

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.

Gov­ern­ment con­trac­tors, who have been placed in­def­i­nitely on un­paid leave, don’t get com­pen­sated for lost hours.

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, and would strug­gle if their wages or salaries were in­ter­rupted. 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. Some are try­ing to land sec­ond jobs.

Rachael Weatherly, a se­nior ad­viser for the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, said she is con­sid­er­ing try­ing to get a job at a gro­cery store. Weatherly, a Mary­land res­i­dent and mother of two young chil­dren, said a re­cent sepa­ra­tion from her spouse drained her bank ac­count, and she is just be­gin­ning to re-es­tab­lish her sav­ings. She can­not af­ford to miss one pay­check.

“I filed for un­em­ploy­ment. I’m wait­ing for that to come through,” she said.

Weatherly said her day care provider agreed to de­fer pay­ments, as did her mort­gage com­pany. But she still worries any late mort­gage pay­ments could harm her credit score. The uncer­tainty, she said, is height­en­ing her con­cerns.

“I just don’t see how this is go­ing to end,” she said.

DAVID GOLD­MAN AP

Jack Lyons, a con­trac­tor work­ing on rocket test stands for NASA, is spend­ing the fur­lough on his side busi­ness.

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