Ever since the government shutdown ended last Friday, Yvette Hicks said her cable company, her electric company, the bank that processes her auto-loan payments, and her life-insurance company have been calling her “back to back to back.” They want to know when they’ll be paid.
Hicks, a 40-year-old security guard working as a contractor for the federal government, had been wondering the same thing about her own income, having gone without work or pay during the 35-day shutdown.
During that time, she had to dip into her savings so that the electric company didn’t cut off power to her home in Washington, D.C., and she was forced to ration her children’s asthma medication—they needed it every four hours, but Hicks couldn’t afford to keep up that frequency. With bills piling up over the past month, she estimates that even now that she’s back to work, it’ll take until “the end of March, maybe” for her to get her finances back to where they were before the shutdown.
Hicks is one of the millions of Americans whose livelihoods were upended by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Just because that shutdown is over doesn’t mean that it isn’t still shaping the lives of American families, including contractors like Hicks who didn’t work and likely won’t receive back pay, and the roughly 800,000 federal workers who will. The individual stresses—both financial and emotional—may have eased, but they persist even as people return to their working rhythms.