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Government shutdown: Federal employees, workers unemployment claims soar



The government shutdown is leaving many federal workers in a bind, and those employees are starting to turn to unemployment insurance to cover the pay gap.

The shutdown, which entered its 27th day Thursday, has left roughly 800,000 federal workers without pay. Many of those workers received their first $0 paycheck last Friday. Around 420,000 workers are on the job but receiving no pay, while another 380,000 are furloughed, meaning they are locked out of work.

Given the financial stress on these employees — workers affected by the shutdown owe more than $400 million in mortgage and rent payments this month — many are starting to turn to government unemployment insurance to help bridge the gap until the shutdown ends.

Read more:Federal workers affected by the government shutdown have more than $400 million in mortgage and rent payments due this month, and it could cause chaos for the US housing market»

According to the Labor Department, 10,454 federal civilian employees filed a new unemployment insurance claim during the week ending January, an increase of 5,694 from the week before.

Typically claims among federal workers is low. As a comparison, only 1,148 federal employees made jobless claims during the same week in 2018.

Federal workers that are deemed essential — those who are working but not being paid — are not allowed to claim unemployment, according to guidance from the Labor Department. But those on furlough can get coverage in some cases.

The increase comes as more and more federal workers are struggling with the shutdown’s financial effects. Some federal employees have set up GoFundMe fundraising pages to help cover their expenses, and others have started to ration medicine to make it through the closure.

Read more: From airport lines to food inspections, here are all the ways the government shutdown is impacting the lives of average Americans»

President Donald Trump kicked off the shutdown in December after refusing to support a short-term funding bill that did not provide money for his long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border. The president has so far not backed down from his demands, despite Democrats pushback, but did sign a bill that would provide furloughed employees with back pay once the government reopens.

Employees that are on the job will automatically receive back pay when the shutdown ends.

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