GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: LONG ISLAND

Today is day 35 of the government shutdown. As the search for a compromise remains elusive, our neighbors are feeling its effects. We take a look at the growing hardship the shutdown has caused on Long Island.

Aired on January 26, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

IT'S ANOTHER WEEK WHERE THE CHIEF IS NOT IN THE MAIL.

FEDERAL WORKERS AROUND THE COUNTRY WILL MISS ANOTHER PAY CYCLE AS THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN HAS SURPASSED THE ONE MONTH MARK.

DESPERATE TO MAKE ENDS MEET SOME FURLOUGHED WORKERS NEVER ONCE THOUGHT THEY WOULD NEED TO RELY ON ASSISTANCE ARE NOW REACHING OUT FOR HELP JUST TO FEED THEIR FAMILIES.

LONG ISLAND ALONE MAY SEE A SIGNIFICANT LOSS IN UNPAID FEDERAL SALARIES AND THE ECONOMY WILL SUFFER.

HERE WITH MORE ON HOW THE SHUTDOWN IS AFFECTING BOTH NASSAU AND SUFFOLK COUNTIES IS JAMES P.MADOR.

LET ME START OFF WITH THE LONG ISLAND SUFFERING.

PEOPLE THINK OF WASHINGTON, D.C.

WITH ALL THE FEDERAL AGENCIES AND OFFICES THERE, THE EXTRAORDINARY NUMBER OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES WHO WORK IN THE D.C.

AREA, BUT SOME FOLKS MIGHT LOOK AT LONG ISLAND AND SAY WHY IS THAT SO IMPACTED?

TELL US ABOUT THE FEDERAL FOOTPRINT, IF YOU WILL, ON LONG ISLAND.

26,000 LONG ISLANDERS WORK FOR UNCLE SAM, FROM THE FAA, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS AND ALSO SECURITY SCREENERS AT AIRPORTS TO THE LARGE IRS PROCESSING FACILITY IN SUFFOLK COUNTY.

REALLY, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS A BIG FOOTPRINT HERE ON LONG ISLAND AND WHEN IT'S SHUT DOWN IT HAS AN I WANT -- IMPACT ON THE ECONOMY.

DO WE HAVE ANY PERCENTAGE ON THE FOLKS WHO ARE BEING FURLOUGHED OR TOLD TO STAY HOME?

WE DON'T KNOW HOW MANY OF THE 26,000 HAVE BEEN AFFECTED.

HOWEVER, WE DO KNOW THAT IF ALL OF THEM WORKING AND RECEIVING THEIR PAYCHECKS THEY RECEIVE APPROXIMATELY $28 MILLION A WEEK.

SO SOME PERCENTAGE OF THAT MONEY IS NOT BEING PAID AND THEREFORE IS NOT BEING SPENT IN THE LOCAL ECONOMY.

WE CAN UNDERSTAND THE LOSSES TO THESE INDIVIDUALS.

AND IT'S TERRIBLY PAINFUL AND WE UNDERSTAND AND CERTAINLY WE SYMPATHIZE WITH THEM.

WHAT ABOUT THE NOTION OF OTHER BUSINESSES?

OTHER IMPACTS ON THE ECONOMY?

I SPOKE WITH THE LONG ISLAND ASSOCIATION WHICH IS THE LARGEST BUSINESS GROUP AND THEY SAY THE SMALL BUSINESSES ARE BEING AFFECTED.

THE MOM AND POP STORES ON MAIN STREET.

DELIS, RESTAURANTS.

LAUNDROMATS.

THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT SEEING CUSTOMERS COME IN.

AND THEREFORE, THEY'RE NOT RECEIVING THE REVENUE THEY NEED TO KEEP THEIR DOORS OPEN.

WE HAVE SEEN A NUMBER OF VIDEOS OF THE WASHINGTON, D.C., AREA.

AS YOU MENTIONED CAFES AND SMALL RESTAURANTS AND FOOD TRUCKS AND THERE'S LITERALLY NOBODY THERE.

ARE SOME OF THESE BUSINESSES WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SIMILARLY SITUATED WHERE THEY RELY IF NOT ENTIRELY SIGNIFICANTLY ON THE BUSINESS THAT'S PROVIDED BY FEDERAL WORKERS?

WE SPOKE WITH SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE BUSINESSES VERY NEAR FEDERAL INSTALLATIONS ON LONG ISLAND.

THERE'S A PIZZERIA NEAR THE AIR TRAFFIC TOWER IN RON CONKA WHAT.

AND THEY'D SPEND $50 TO $60 PER VISIT AND NOW THEY'RE COMING IN ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS.

ANOTHER RESTAURANT WE INTERVIEWED IS LOSING $130 A WEEK -- I'M SORRY, $130 A DAY.

THAT ADDS UP OVER THE WEEK AND THEY SAID, LOOK, WE CAN'T AFFORD TO TAKE THESE LOSSES.

ARE WE SEEING ANY OF THE AGENCIES OUT THERE ON LONG ISLAND THAT ARE STEPPING UP AND TRYING TO PROVIDE SOME ASSISTANCE TO THE FEDERAL WORKERS?

YES, WE ARE.

ISLAND HARVEST, LONG ISLAND CARES, A NUMBER OF THE LOCAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ARE REACHING OUT BOTH WITH FOOD AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IN SOME CASES BRIDGE LOANS SO PEOPLE CAN PAY THEIR MORTGAGES.

IN OTHER CASES, MORTGAGE PAYMENTS BEING DELAYED BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T HAVE PAYCHECKS IN WHICH TO PAY THEIR MORTGAGE.

BUT STILL, VERY DIFFICULT.

WE HAVE HEARD ABOUT FEDERAL WORKERS TURNING TO UBER AND DRIVING PART-TIME WITH UBER.

OR DELIVERING PIZZAS.

OR SERVING AS NANNIES OR IN CHILD CARE.

THE ONE THING THAT'S DIFFICULT FOR FEDERAL WORKERS IS IF THEY MOONLIGHT, MOST OCCUPATIONS THEY HAVE TO GET PERMISSION FROM THEIR EMPLOYER FOR THEM TO BE ABLE TO MOONLIGHT.

SO THEY'RE RESTRICTED IN THOSE SECOND JOBS THEY CAN TAKE.

SO A HORRIBLE SCENARIO, BASICALLY WE'RE SAYING YOU CAN'T BE WORKING AT YOUR REAL JOB AND THERE'S NOBODY THERE TO EVEN TELL YOU WHETHER YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ELSE IN THE MEANTIME.

SO IT'S A DOUBLE BIND FOR THEM, IF YOU WILL.

LET ME ASK YOU THIS.

LAST QUESTION FOR US TO TALK ABOUT.

PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE NOTION OF THIS HAS TO END AT SOME POINT IN TIME.

WE HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT HOPEFULLY -- I'M TALKING ABOUT THIS FROM A NONPARTISAN DIRECTION, HOPEFULLY REASONABLE MINDS CAN GET TOGETHER ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE AND RESOLVE SOMETHING, GET THE BUSINESS UP AND RUNNING.

THE QUESTION IS WHAT'S THE IMPACT GOING TO BE -- ECONOMIC IMPACT?

SOME PEOPLE WILL SAY IT'S LASTING.

SOME PEOPLE SAY IT WILL BE A SNAP BACK.

IT WILL BE LIMITED.

FROM YOUR REPORTING AND WHAT YOU'RE SEEING AND THE PEOPLE YOU'RE TALKING TO OUT IN YOUR AREA, WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF WHAT THE IMPACT WILL BE?

THE ECONOMISTS I HAVE SPOKEN TO FROM FARMINGDALE STATE COLLEGE AND THE LONG ISLAND ASSOCIATION SAY IT'S REALLY -- THERE ARE TWO PICTURES HERE.

ONE IS WE WILL SEE A BOOST IN CONSUMER SPENDING.

ONCE FEDERAL WORKERS FINALLY BEGIN TO GET THEIR PAYCHECKS.

ONCE THE SHUTDOWN ENDS.

HOWEVER, THERE'S ANOTHER GROUP.

FEDERAL CONTRACTORS.

THEY'RE NOT GETTING PAID AND THEY WILL HAVE NO BACK PAY COMING TO THEM.

FINALLY, YOU HAVE SOME BUSINESSES LIKE RESTAURANTS WHERE THEY HAVE LOST OUT ON BUSINESS.

ONCE THE FEDERAL WORKER GETS THEIR PAYCHECK AGAIN THEY'RE NOT GOING TO EAT DOUBLE.

SO RESTAURANTS IN PARTICULAR ARE BEING HIT HARD BECAUSE THESE MEALS THAT AREN'T BEING TAKEN YOU CAN'T REPLACE THEM.

I SAID LAST QUESTION, THIS IS ACTUALLY MY LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

THAT IS THIS.

IN YOUR REPORTING, THE PEOPLE YOU'RE TALKING TO, I THINK PEOPLE SAID ALL RIGHT, THIS WILL BE A BLIP.

A LITTLE BIT OF TIME, MAYBE A WEEK AT MOST AND WE'RE PAST A MONTH NOW.

ARE YOU GETTING ANY SENSE OF THE PEOPLE YOU'RE TALKING TO AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THERE'S ANY OPTIMISM LEFT IN TERMS OF THIS GETTING RESOLVED FAIRLY QUICKLY?

WELL, THE FEDERAL WORKERS I TALKED TO AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE ARE VERY DISCOURAGED.

IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THESE ARE GOOD-PAYING JOBS.

THE AVERAGE WAGE IS $75,400 A YEAR.

FOR THE LONG ISLANDERS WHO WORK FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

THOSE ARE GOOD PAYING MIDDLE CLASS JOBS THAT YOU NEED TO LIVE ON LONG ISLAND.

SO WHEN YOU DON'T GET YOUR PAYCHECK AND NOW WE'RE ON THE SECOND PAYCHECK THAT'S NOT COMING, PEOPLE ARE SCARED.

THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT KEEPING THEIR HOMES.

THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT KEEPING BODY AND SOUL TOGETHER.

WELL, I HAVE A FEELING THAT YOU AND I MIGHT BE TALKING ABOUT MORE DOWN THE ROAD.

GREAT REPORTING BY YOU.

WE APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING SOME TIME AND SHARING WHAT YOU'RE FINDING OUT THERE.

THANKS SO MUCH.

LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING TO YOU AGAIN.

THANKS SO MUCH.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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