Will Our Government Shut Down for the Second Time in 3 Years?

Here’s why a shutdown will have far-reaching economic and social impacts.

It’s easy to imagine government being a far away entity, tucked away within the beltway of Washington, DC. But with a government shutdown looming, it’s important now, more than ever, to remember that government workers are all around us.

They are bringing our mail, protecting our national parks, averting public health emergencies, providing benefits to veterans, and issuing food assistance to the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

The impacts of a federal government shutdown are widespread and will become more severe the longer the situation drags on. Because of this, the shutdown’s impact will ripple throughout the country and will bring broad economic impacts if it is prolonged.

What will force a shutdown?

For months, Democrats in Congress, concerned citizens, and over 200 organizations representing environmental, public policy, labor, financial protections, public health, women’s health, and good government issues have urged Congress to pass a clean spending bill -- one free from ideological riders which are attached to spending bills for the benefit of special interests. Some of these riders would curtail the power of the federal government to enforce existing regulations or even to collect taxes. Many are handouts to special interest groups (including Wall Street and some of the country’s worst polluters).

However, Republicans in Congress are trying to shove through these “poison pill” riders in a must-pass piece of legislation, the federal budget.

What will the shutdown impact?

Parts of the federal government deemed “non-essential” could shut down unless a budget bill is passed by December 16 .

Based on previous government shutdowns, we can speculate that the shutdown could close national parks, restrict access to federal loans and mortgages, close down parts of the Centers for Disease Control, freeze federal funds available for nutrition assistance to women and children, and delay veteran and social security benefits.

The shutdown will force hundreds of thousands of employees across all 50 states to stay home without pay.

Fewer than 20 percent of federal employees work in the Washington, DC area. The vast majority work in communities throughout the country. They work in agricultural extension services helping farmers or as FEMA employees helping state and local first responders prepare for disasters, and National Park Service rangers helping protect our public lands.

Our map shows where federal government employees work across the U.S., organized by Congressional District and county.

Federal employees across the United States, organized by
Congressional District and county.

What could be the economic impacts of a government shutdown?

In 2013, we saw the federal government shutdown for two weeks, October 1-16, 2013. The impacts of this were significant. Nearly a million federal employees were furloughed and another 1.3 million worked without knowing when they would be paid. Federal contractors also furloughed thousands of employees, and small businesses were hurt by delays in receiving business loans.

The U.S. economy suffered a massive hit. A Standard & Poor analysis estimated the shutdown cost the economy $24 billion.

The Council on Economic Advisers estimated that 120,000 fewer private sector jobs were created during these two weeks as a result of the shutdown and uncertainty over the debt limit. Surveys also revealed that the shutdown had a negative impact on consumer and business confidence.

How can we prevent the government from shutting down this year?

Use our map to change the conversation about where our government is and what it does in your community. Share the map with your friends, your family and even your Members of Congress. Then invite your friends to join you in calling your representatives in Congress and urge them to pass a clean budget!

Call and state your name and where you are from, and say: “I am urging my member of Congress to pass a clean budget -- one without any poison pill riders. Government shutdowns have far-reaching economic and social impacts on our country. It’s essential that you join the members of Congress who trying to fund our government.”

back to Blog