Shutdown Impacts Federal Employees in Every Congressional District

Press Release September 25, 2023

WASHINGTON – Every single member of Congress has thousands of constituents whose paychecks would stop during a government shutdown, impacting federal employee families and local economies across the country.  

“A government shutdown is not a harmless, DC drama,” said NTEU National President Doreen Greenwald. “Federal employees in every American community will lose income, through no fault of their own, and in many cases, they will be locked out of doing the work they were hired to do for the American people.”  

According to the latest data from the U.S. Census as reported by the Congressional Research Service, at least 2,600 civilian federal employees live in every congressional district. The vast majority – 96 percent of the districts --  have more than 4,000 civilian federal employees. Several states have more than 100,000 federal employees.  

The figures, as gathered by the American Community Survey, include employees from dozens of different federal agencies and do not include military servicemembers. The figures reflect places of residence as opposed to duty station and include a margin of error. 

“Career civil servants, many of them already living paycheck to paycheck, do not deserve to have their financial security shattered by political dysfunction,” Greenwald said.   

Government funding for the current fiscal year expires Sept. 30, which means Congress must pass a new spending law by then to avoid a lapse in appropriations.   

During the record 35-day shutdown of 2018-19, about 800,000 federal employees missed paychecks, inflicting financial stress on their families and economic distress in their communities. Some were required to keep working throughout the shutdown, while others were furloughed.

“We had thousands of members across the country who missed a mortgage payment, took out short term loans and ran up their credit card debt because they had no paychecks for a month. They stood in line at food banks, pulled their children from childcare, begged creditors for grace and were unable to put gas in their cars to report to work for an IOU. This is not how the United States of America should treat its own employees,” Greenwald said.  

“Now is a good time to remind Congress that their constituents back home are the ones who will suffer the most in a shutdown,” Greenwald said. “While some members of Congress seem to downplay, or even welcome, a government shutdown, it is a serious situation with real consequences for families in their districts.” 

Among the NTEU-represented agencies that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations are IRS, Customs and Border Protection, Bureau of Land Management, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Federal Election Commission, National Park Service, Patent and Trademark Office, Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

NTEU represents employees in 35 federal agencies and offices.