Federal employees say they are seeking second jobs to cope with the ongoing partial government shutdown, which on Friday morning became the joint-longest in US history.
Some 800,000 federal workers around the country 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 partial government shutdown, which began on December 22 when President Donald Trump and Congressional Democrats disagreed over the funding of Trump’s proposed wall along the US-Mexico border.
420,000 federal employees deemed “essential” are working unpaid, while the other 380,000 are at home without pay. Workers have been given backpay 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 are 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 rideshare drivers 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 (AP) she was trying to get a second job. However, she says employers don’t want to hire her because they don’t know how long she will be there for.
“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 (FEMA) and a mother of two young children, also told the AP she filed for unemployment and is 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 on Thursday due to vandalism and sanitation problems caused by a lack of staff during the shutdown.
The president and Democratic leaders have yet to find a solution to reopen the government despite continuous talks.
Earlier this week Trump stormed out of a government-shutdown meeting after Democrats refused to fund his border wall.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump “sort of slammed the table” and walked out of the room, which Trump denied.
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