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Friday, October 4, 2013

Federal shutdown has huge impact on Fairfax County

As the federal government shutdown continues into the fourth day with no end in sight, the cost to the local economy is huge and growing.

According to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, “non-essential” federal employees who live in Fairfax County who are forced to take unpaid leave are losing a total of over $1.6 million a day in lost salaries.

Federal workers who have been furloughed could be eligible for unemployment benefits. More information is available from the Virginia Employment Commission. Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Moran introduced legislation calling for furloughed employees to receive retroactive back pay.

In addition to the personal losses to thousands of local residents and the suspension of federal programs, including many that serve the needy, the domino effect from the shutdown could have devastating longer-term implications for the county budget, due to reduced tax receipts.

According to WTOP, Fairfax County, Va., has 4,100 contractors that bring in about $26 billion per year. Many federal contracts have been put on hold until the shutdown ends, and smaller businesses that depend on spending by federal workers, contractors, and tourists are seeing a loss in income, too.

Bulova released a partial list of the federal programs that provide assistance to Fairfax County residents that will or could be adversely affected by the shutdown: the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamps); energy assistance grants; child care assistance; substance abuse and mental health services; public housing subsidies; and for housing assistance for veterans. 

UPDATE: The Virginia health commissioner announced Oct. 5 that WIC offices are open and providing services.

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