The partial government shutdown that stretched from late 2018 to early 2019 had a significant impact on the personal finances of federal workers in Utah according to a new study from Weber State University.
The partial shutdown resulted in thousands of IRS and Forest Service workers in Northern Utah going without a paycheck from late December to the end of January.
The key findings from the report:
- More than 35% of the furloughed workers missed a rent or mortgage payment during the partial shutdown.
- 30% went to a food pantry to make ends meet.
- 60% applied to skip or defer payment on a credit card, mortgage or loan.
- 65% were very or somewhat concerned about finances after the shutdown was over.
Once the furlough was over, employees became more financially stable, as the percentage of those who missed payments declined significantly. But, more than half of those surveyed said they had to pay late fees on their essential bills.
Several employees offered anonymous, open-ended answers to the survey.
- “I just wish that Congress would realize them shutting the government down affects a lot of people. All we want to do is work, do our job, and get paid like everyone else.”
- “I have been through four government shutdowns and it is very disheartening to be manipulated like a pawn as if we do not matter.”
The shutdown also negatively impacted the economy of Northern Utah, too. Local businesses reported their revenues dropped significantly as those federal workers pulled back on spending. Some businesses, especially restaurants, saw income dip by 30%. However, most affected businesses were located near federal buildings.
Even though the furlough ended in January, the report says it’s still having an effect on worker morale. 42% of the furloughed workers reported they wanted to make a career change or retire.
One factor contributing to stress felt by furloughed employees was a lack of savings or financial resources. Nearly 35% of employees said they did not have any savings, while 30% said they had less than 1 month’s worth available to them. 57% of the employees surveyed said they received no assistance, while 35% said they got help from family or friends.
You can read the full survey results here.