Six days into the government’s partial shutdown, with no end in sight, hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been left without pay, even as some work over the holidays. But another group of workers has also been hit hard and, unlike federal workers, may never see retroactive pay: government contractors.
Many government contractors ― from food workers and janitors to security services and computer software developers ― depend on federal funds for their wages. Since the shutdown, some have seen their jobs furloughed or have received “stop work orders,” meaning they’re out of work until the government is up and running again.
And while federal employees, who may or may not have to work during the shutdown, will likely later get back pay for this period, government contractors in all likelihood will not.
“Starting yesterday, I was expected to go back to work, but, of course, I couldn’t,” said 47-year-old Misty Carrothers, a paralegal on a government contract with the Department of Justice. Her last day of work was Friday, due to the shutdown, which started that midnight.
“My last paycheck covers the first-of-the-month bills, which are the big ones: rent and car insurance. But then you have credit cards that come in the middle of the month, and my health insurance may or may not be fully covered on my next paycheck,” she said, noting that her husband is a student who works only part-time. “It’s just like, when is this going to end?”
Other contractors took to Twitter to share their struggles under the hashtag #ShutdownStories, recounting their concerns about being out of work over the holidays and how they’ll get by.