For many communities, federal shutdown has a local impact

A woman reads newspapers from around the U.S. at the Newseum in Washington. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)
A woman reads newspapers from around the U.S. at the Newseum in Washington. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Much of the attention being paid to the government shutdown seems to be focused on how it will impact the Washington region. That makes some sense, given the massive concentration of federal workers and contractors in and around D.C. The region could lose an estimated $200 million a day, according to a local economist’s projections.

But it is worth noting the impact far from the shuttered museums and memorials of the Mall. The federal government employs people across the country, and many of these workers are facing furloughs. There are also plenty of services offered and venues operated or maintained that will no longer be available.

Here is a look at what is going on away from Washington:

The search for a missing woman at Craters of the Moon National Monument was impacted, with 16 of the park’s 19 employees set to be furloughed. On Tuesday, a park employee reported that for a time, no one was looking for her due to the furloughs. The park said Wednesday that 10 workers would be able to stay to help during the search.

Military members will continue to be paid, as will many civilians working for the Defense Department, thanks to a bill signed into law Monday. But civilian employees who work at military bases and support the National Guard are being hit hard, something acknowledged by President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week.

The commissary at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa has been closed. About 1,500 civilian employees working at the base were furloughed, according to officials, leading to worries for owners and employees of local businesses near the base.

Some support offices will close at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson outside Anchorage, Alaska, while the base’s inspector general’s office and housing offices will close.

More than 760 civilian military workers in Wyoming, including technicians and other support staff, have been furloughed. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said that the Oklahoma National Guard is expected to furlough nearly 700 soldiers and airmen. About 840 civilian employees of the Wisconsin National Guard were sent home.

There are usually about 18,000 visitors to the Grand Canyon in October, but the park is now closed along with 400 other national parks. These parks employ about 25,000 workers for concessions, and there are other groups (like companies that provide tours) that are similarly reliant upon the parks.

And if the shutdown lingers, it could impact services that provide food to low-income families and medical advice for women and children in need.

A federal program that provides food for poor women and children in Wisconsin should be able to continue for a few weeks if the shutdown persists, but after that it could stop getting shipments of food, officials warned. In Washington state, a nutrition program that provides health screenings, nutrition education and other support to pregnant women, new mothers and young children has enough money to operate for nine days. A similar program in North Carolina could also shut down this month.

American Indian tribes are dealing with a loss of funding for services including financial aid for the needy, foster care payments and nutrition programs.

This is just a small sampling of the shutdown’s impact. And we’re only on Day Two of the shutdown. A prolonged shutdown would have a considerable economic impact, according to numerous economists.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.

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Tom Jackman · October 2, 2013