A government shutdown, even if partial, isn’t a good thing especially when workers in affected federal agencies are idle and don’t receive their paychecks. The partial government shutdown that was lifted recently took its toll not only on the 800,000 employees but also on firms with contracts or projects with the government. The temporary opening of the government is scheduled to last until February 15.
According to GovTribe, the number of contract postings on the Federal Contracting Opportunities system has considerably lessened during the shutdown which took effect December 22, 2018. The contract postings were just one-third of the 2017 total during the same period. The nine affected agencies posted only 392 contracting opportunities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Commerce posted only 10% of last year’s contract opportunities because funding was held in abeyance. There is a huge disparity in the value of contracts awarded during the same period one year ago, $3.7 billion versus $1.8 billion.
Government shutdowns mean fewer work opportunities and decreased earning potential and financially dislocate workers. That is what happened to a retiree in Atlanta and worker at ISN Corporation which is a service provider to federal government agencies. Since only one of three contract jobs had funding, cash flow stopped and his monthly income dropped by $500 to $1000. Omair Sharif, senior U.S. economist at Societe Generale, predicted a modest drag in job growth. Fortunately, the January report showed that the U.S. economy added 304,000 new jobs which are way above consensus estimates of 172,000 jobs. Because the federal workers did not receive their January paychecks, the unemployment rate rose from 3% to 4%.