Federal employees seek loans and find second job while closing is in progress


OGDEN, Utah (AP) "Rachael Weatherly is a senior advisor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but is considering trying to find a job in a grocery store.

Weatherly is one of 800,000 federal employees who do not receive a pay check for the first time on Friday due to the government's persistent closure.

They reduce their expenses, cancel their travels, apply for unemployment benefits and take out loans to stay afloat, with no end predicted for a partial stoppage that will enter its 21st day on Friday and which will be the longest in history. Here this weekend.

Weatherly, a Maryland resident and mother of two young children, said that a recent separation from his wife had drained her bank account and that she was just beginning to restore her savings. She can not afford to miss a salary.

"I have applied for unemployment and I am waiting for it to happen," she said.

Weatherly said his day care provider agreed to postpone payments, just like his mortgage company. But she still fears that late payments could negatively affect her credit score. Uncertainty, she said, exacerbates her worries.

"I just do not see how it will end," she said.

Approximately 420,000 federal employees have been deemed essential and work without pay. Another 380,000 remain at home without being paid. Although federal employees on leave have been reimbursed for previous closures, there is no guarantee that this will happen this time.

Government contractors, who have been placed on leave without pay indefinitely, are not compensated for lost hours.

Most government employees received their last pay check two weeks ago, and Friday will be the first pay day without money. Across the country, some workers rely on donations, including to launch GoFundMe campaigns. Larders have opened in several places.

In Massachusetts, a private group mobilized to ensure that people working at local Coast Guard stations had access to food and clothing during the closure. Don Cox, president of the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation Inc., said the non-profit group had opened what he calls "empowerment centers" at Coast Guard stations in Boston and in Providence, Rhode Island.

The group is helping to feed 500 to 600 families a day during the shutdown, which is about double the usual demand, said Cox. He said that he was happy to help but angry that those who work in some military bases are not paid.

"We've been doing it for 10 years – it's my fourth stop," Cox said. "I wish senators and congressmen do not take their paychecks, I would feel much better then."

Democratic United States Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado said on Thursday that she would not take her salary until federal employees were without pay. US Representative Ed Perlmutter, another Democrat from Colorado, said his staff would offer free breakfasts and lunches to unpaid federal employees in his Denver suburban district office starting Friday.

In Falls Church, Virginia, outside of Washington, a school district is hosting a job fair for fired federal employees who wish to work as substitute teachers.

Tiauna Guerra, one of the 3,750 fired IRS employees in Ogden, Utah, tried to find a job but said the employers did not want to hire her when she explained their situation to them because they did not want to lose it in a few weeks.

In the meantime, she contracts a loan to pay for her car and her husband and she delay the plan to leave her parents' home until the end of the closure.

"We are barely recovering," said Guerra, a mother of two young children. "We are not able to pay a lot of our bills, we have trouble buying gas, food."

Mr. Guerra was among the hundred or so dismissed IRS employees who gathered Thursday in front of the federal building in Ogden to call for an end to the closure. They chanted, "We want to work, we want to work."

Closing forces many families to make difficult decisions.

Michelle Wallace, a 34-year-old mother of four, told her 16-year-old son that the family would not be able to go to their basketball tournament an hour away from their home in Peoria, Ohio. ;Illinois.

Wallace, a nurse recently out of school and in debt with student debt, realized there would be no last minute deal to end the closure, which means her husband, a federal employee, would miss a salary. They could not afford to buy tickets or use the half tank of fuel needed to travel to the tournament.

"We want to be there to support him," Wallace said through tears. "But there is no end in sight for the reopening government, I do not know when we will have enough money, and I can not justify spending anything."


Associate press authors Steve LeBlanc in Boston, Matthew Barakat Falls Church in Virginia and Dan Elliott in Denver contributed to the writing of this report.