Find Us

Furloughed workers stretch to manage financial concerns during shutdown

Darryl and Cynthia
Furloughed federal worker Darryl Floyd and his wife, Cynthia in Woodbridge, Virginia, January 10, 2019. Copyright Courtesy Floyd family
Copyright Courtesy Floyd family
By Kailani Koenig and Ali Vitali with NBC News Politics
Published on
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

From cancer treatment to mortgage payments, federal workers in the Washington area try to juggle financial concerns with no end to shutdown in sight.


WOODBRIDGE, Virginia — Darryl Floyd was already feeling worried before the government shutdown started.

His wife, Cynthia, is battling cancer and her treatment was happening out of state, in Arkansas. The couple was already planning for increased costs for her medical care — including a second, temporary apartment in Little Rock while she was receiving treatment. That was before Congress and the White House brought the country into a partial government shutdown, and Darryl was furloughed.

"From the beginning of shutdown to now as far as bills now, I think about well, I'm gonna have to get a loan, consolidate bills, it just kind of changes the whole aspect of thought process," he told NBC News Thursday night at his dining room table.

And that's just the financial toll.

"It's a lot of emotions," he admitted. "It's stressful sometimes, your blood pressure, your stress, you want the best. And then I worry about my wife, making sure she's healthy, trying to sacrifice, so it's just hard on me, [and] her. Ya know, we kinda worry about the bills ... if she's gonna be able to buy medicine or whatever it may be. Will we be able to eat? So, it's kind of stressful."

With Darryl's federal income off the table — he works for the U.S. International Trade Commission as a human resources specialist — Cynthia, a Certified Public Accountant, has been picking up some more work herself.

The day after they talked with NBC, they began the trip to Arkansas where Cynthia will undergo a stem cell transplant. They left Virginia "just hoping that the shutdown ends," Darryl said. But with the president warning that this could go on for months — or longer — they're not sure what to expect.

Floyd was one of thousands of people who attended a union-organized rally in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Even with an estimated 80 percent of the federal workforceliving outside of the greater D.C. region, the shutdown has ushered in a slew of tough consequences for people across this area.

Bonnie McEwan, an employee at the SEC, told NBC on Thursday that her concerns are twofold: being able to make ends meet and the toll the shutdown is taking on the work she and her colleagues are responsible for. McEwan has still be going to work, but she hasn't been getting paid.

"I can't do a lot actually because nobody is there," she said. Her bills are piling up and her concerns are starting to keep her up at night.

"I will be able to work it out this time but I don't know how long I can go on like this," she added. "Eventually I will have to take money out of my 401K apparently to make mortgage payments. You know, my normal monthly payments if it goes on, which if you listen to the news, it sounds like there's no end in sight. It's really scary. It's stressful. It's causing me a lot of stress. I have a hard time even sleeping thinking about it. I'm dreaming about it now, going into the office and being told, 'We don't need you. Go home.'"

Denise Price, a furloughed worker at the Department of the Treasury who also attended the Thursday rally, says she's trying to watch her spending as close as she can and prioritize where her money goes.

"I'm trying to bleed out whatever little bit of funds that I have," she said. "It's very tough. It really is. I have to pick between what bills I can pay and what bills I have to put aside and try to figure out how to pay."

She says the situation has been tough on her family, and while her daughter has offered to contribute part of her paycheck, Price would like to avoid that. "I want to be able to support my family the way I'm supposed to support them," she said.

"I want to go back to work," she continued. "I want the powers that be to come together, make a decision. Please open the government so that we can get back to work. We need to provide services to the American people. I enjoy my work, my other co-workers enjoy their work. Please, get it together, put all those judgements aside, and come together. Come to an agreement and open the government."

About 900 miles south of the nation's capital at the Kennedy Space Center, workers across the area have been told not to report in to their jobs.

Steve Ching, a contractor with NASA who works as an industrial technician, says the shutdown "also affects scientists, engineers, all the different support staff down at the Kennedy Space Center. They have literally closed the gates and no one is working."

While the financial impact on some of the people there has been profound, he said the shutdown is grinding down the operations his team is responsible for every day.


"Of our crew of ten on the high voltage, we only have two that are currently there sporadically for what they refer to as 'necessity work,' but other than that everybody is home without a paycheck," he said.

"It not only affects me but also all the other workers down there," he added. "I mean, our mortgages and rent, our utilities, our car payments, everything that we have for necessities in life continue on and we don't have any income."

Share this articleComments

You might also like

EU aims to cushion furloughed workers with unemployment scheme

US shutdown breaks all-time record