Between December 2018 and January 2019, President Trump created the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The reason why Trump decided to shut the government down was because he was at odds with Democrats over funding for the U.S./Mexico border wall that he promised during his 2016 presidential campaign.
When government shutdowns occur, government workers in many different agencies and programs are “furloughed.” Being furloughed essentially means being temporarily put out of work without pay. Government workers who furloughed during government shutdowns often experience a tremendous amount of financial stress as they struggle to make mortgage payments, rent payments, child support payments, etc.
Which Government Workers are Affected During Government Shutdowns?
Most government shutdowns are “partial government shutdowns.” This means that the government does not shut down every single area. Instead, the government will allow the most important areas of government to keep functioning, while temporarily shutting down areas that are less important and are not essential to the immediate functioning of the country. During the 2018/2019 shutdown, roughly 800,000 government workers went without pay for over a month.
Here are the areas that are the most affected by government shutdowns:
- The Environmental Protection Agency
- National Park Service
- National Museums
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Transportation Agency
- The Department of the Treasury
- The Department of Agriculture
- The Department of Commerce
- The Department of Justice
- The Department of the Interior
- The Department of State
Is the Post Office Affected by Government Shutdowns?
The Post Office is typically not affected by any government shutdowns. There are several reasons why this is the case. The first is because the Post Office is considered an essential government agency. The second is because the Post Office is an independent organization that is self-funded. In other words, the Post Office generates all of the money that it needs by charging individuals, businesses, and other entities to ship packages and envelopes.
Because the Post Office is self-funded, it is able to operate without tax dollars being designated to fund its operation. Therefore, it can keep running whether or not the government is in a shutdown period. This is excellent news for Post Office workers because it means that they are essentially immune to the financial hardships that government workers in other agencies have been dealing with during shutdown periods.
The Impact of Government Shutdowns
It is important for everyone to understand the impact of government shutdowns. This is because they don’t just impact government workers, they impact the whole country. This is because government workers perform a variety of important services, and when they are furloughed, many of these services simply stop being provided.
For example, during the recent government shutdown, tens of thousands of airport screeners and coast guard workers were not performing their normal duties. This makes the country significantly less safe. Many other homeland security personnel also did not work during the government shutdown. So, government shutdowns decrease the amount of security that our country has.
Financially, government shutdowns also place an enormous burden on government employees. In the first week of the recent government shutdown, 25,149 civilian federal employees filed for unemployment. It is also estimated that the government shutdown cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars.
Even though Post Office workers and other essential government employees are not impacted by government shutdowns, the nation at large tends to suffer, and hundreds of thousands of government employees still suffer. So, while government shutdowns may be effective tactics for politicians to try to get what they want, there is a lot of collateral damage that tends to happen when they occur. But do not fret, even if the government shuts down, your local post office should remain open!