Federal employees say they are seeking second jobs to cope with the partial government shutdown, which on Friday morning tied the longest in US history.
Some 800,000 federal workers are in limbo and do not know when their next paycheck will come. Many say they are scrimping, taking out loans, and looking for other work.
Friday is day 21 of the shutdown, which began December 22 when President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats disagreed over the funding of Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border.
Of the 800,000 federal employees, 420,000 deemed “essential” are working unpaid, while the other 380,000 are on furlough, meaning they are not allowed to work their regular job. Workers have been given back pay in the previous shutdowns, but it is not guaranteed.Nate Murrell, a rideshare driver in Washington, DC, told ABC7 News this week that government workers were driving for Uber to make ends meet.
“With the government shutdown, you have more people working for the government doing Uber,” Murrell said. “And for the full-time Uber drivers, that is really affecting us too, and our money.”
Regular drivers for ride-hailing companies like Uber or Lyft are doubly hit because government workers are among their main customers, he added.
Tiauna Guerra, an Internal Revenue Service employee in Ogden, Utah, told the Associated Press that she was trying to get a second job but that employers didn’t want to hire her because of the uncertainty over when she would resume her government job.
“We are not able to pay a lot of our bills,” she said. “We’re having a hard time trying to buy gas, food.”Rachel Weatherly, a senior adviser for the Federal Emergency Management Agency who has two young children, also told the AP she filed for unemployment and was considering working for a grocery store.
Michelle Wallace, the wife of a federal worker, told the AP she and her husband could not afford the ticket price for their son’s basketball tournament or the half-tank of gas to get there.
Air-traffic controllers around the US have been posting pay stubs showing $0 in their income. The Joshua Tree National Park in California closed Thursday because of vandalism and sanitation problems caused by a lack of staff during the shutdown.
The president and Democratic leaders still appear far apart in negotiations to reopen the government.
Earlier this week, Trump was said to have stormed out of a meeting after Democrats refused to fund a border wall.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump “sort of slammed the table” and walked out of the room, prompting Trump to deny losing his temper.
The 20 previous government shutdowns have lasted eight days on average, though they have been longer in recent decades.
The other longest shutdown in history lasted 21 days, from December 15, 1995, to January 6, 1996.