Editor’s Note: This story was filed for print on Jan. 21 as the federal shutdown continued. The U.S. government has been partially shutdown for nearly a month as President Donald Trump and …
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Editor’s Note: This story was filed for print on Jan. 21 as the federal shutdown continued.
The U.S. government has been partially shutdown for nearly a month as President Donald Trump and Democrats butt heads over a Mexico border wall. This is the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history, and over 50,000 federal workers in Colorado are out of work. According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, 2,362 federal employees have filed for unemployment as of Jan. 17.
MORE: How the shutdown effects are being felt by other businesses
Here are what federal employees have to say about the shutdown and how it is impacting them and their families.
Joanne Grady is a fish and lab biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Grady, a Golden resident, has a disabled spouse, and her son is a senior at Compass Montessori School. Her son has college aspirations, but since the government shutdown is impacting her income, Grady is unsure how much money she can contribute to her son’s college savings.
Grady’s family of four relies on her salary, and she filed for unemployment, but it will only cover her mortgage and utilities.
“We live paycheck to paycheck as many other Americans do. We’re not buying clothes, or going to restaurants,” said Grady. “Federal employees, and the folks in my agency, we are really passionate about what we do. We have those personal and economical impacts at home, but the important work we do for the American people is not being done.”
Roxanne Runkel works as an environmental protection specialist for the National Park Service. Runkel lives in Golden, and she is worried about an upcoming property tax bill. She has already missed two paychecks, and she recently visited with Congressman Ed Perlmutter to express her concerns.
“I’m trying to figure out how to come up with $2,000 without any paychecks. I’ve had some trouble sleeping, I’ve had anxiety, and I’ve cried,” said Runkel. “It’s been very unsettling. (The partial government shutdown) is an inappropriate way to push forward an agenda. I feel like a hostage.”
Russell Weisfield is married, and a has son who is only two. His family lives in unincorporated Jefferson County, and he is a software developer for the United States Department of Agriculture. Although his wife is working, Weisfield has had to take money out of his savings to pay bills. He’s already missed one paycheck, and unless the shutdown has ended by Jan. 22, he’ll miss out on another one.
Weisfield hasn’t filed for unemployment yet, but if the shutdown drags, he is planning to do so.
“One of the biggest feelings is the anxiety of not knowing when this is going to end. The length of this shutdown is extremely silly and not beneficial for anyone,” said Weisfield. “I don’t think this helps the American people.”
Greg Clark is the director of the laboratory and analytical services division for the U.S. Geological Survey. He and his team test rivers, streams and lakes for things that shouldn’t be in the water bodies. He received his last paycheck three weeks ago, and he picked up a part-time job as a ski instructor in the Loveland Ski Area.
He was planning to fly his children out from Eugene, Oregon next month to visit, but that thought is in doubt, because he is not working at his federal government job. He said what concerns him most about the partial government shutdown is the well being of his staff.
“I have younger college grads on my staff who may not have funds put aside for emergencies. I don’t know how they’re going to weather this storm,” said Clark. “I have 25, or more staff who are living on whatever they have saved up. We’re doing what we can to mitigate this and help them understand what their options and resources are. I feel powerless with respect to that, because there’s very little that we can do.”
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