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Federal Workers Take the Hit in the Wallet and Spirit; How it Affects Cornerstone Region
Thursday, October 3, 2013 7:00 AM

Federal Workers

The U.S. government attacked itself early Tuesday, shuttering much of its operation and forcing hundreds of thousands of federal employees from their workplaces.

Staff members had no choice but to surrender to the inaction of Congress, which could not agree on legislation to keep the government fully operational.

The shutdown prevented agreements on a bill that would allow national parks to remain open, veterans benefits to be processed, unemployment check to continue, and about 800,000 federal employees to be paid.

The loss of pay is serious. For some households, a federal job is the single source of income. Some families with two federal workers will now have none.

But more than the money, broken spirits appear to be emerging among some federal employees.

The quiet halls and empty cubicles in the Department of Housing and Urban Development provide stark evidence of the shutdown. Much of the building looked as if it had been hit by a strange force that vaporizes people while leaving their desks and the structure intact.

The generally buzzing Dunkin’ Donuts store on the building’s third floor had customers, but it was unusually quiet. An adjacent snack shop was closed. The credit union down the hall, however, was busy as members got their money before the office closed.

Unless Congress decides otherwise, which can’t be assumed, furloughed employees won’t get paid for the days they are locked out.

All this leaves federal employees upset and frustrated. But there’s something more. Conversations with workers point to a growing level of alienation among some who were once proud members of the federal service.

This shutdown, along with three years of a freeze on their basic pay rates and a recent string of unpaid days because of budget cuts, leaves many feeling unappreciated and disrespected. Members of Congress, by the way, continue to be paid, while so many of the employees they oversee do not.

[Source: The Washington Post, 2 October 2013]

How does it affect Cornerstone Members? Look at the number of federal employees in the community:

  • San Antonio, 72,000 (7.8 percent of the workforce)
  • Fort Worth & Dallas, 62,000 (2.0 percent of the workforce)
  • El Paso, 43,000 (13.6 percent of the workforce)
  • Houston, 42,000 (1.5 percent of the workforce)
  • Oklahoma City, 40,000 (6.6 percent of the workforce)
  • Little Rock, 18,000 (5.1 percent of the workforce)
  • Austin, 16,000 (2.0 percent of the workforce)
  • Tulsa, 9,000 (2.0 percent of the workforce)
  • McAllen, 5,000 (2.3 percent of the workforce)