Bob Neeley eats lunch at Bickering Sisters in Ogden, Utah on Jan. 4. (Kim Raff / for The Washington Post) OGDEN, Utah – The snowy streets of Ogden are quiet these days. Parking lots are half-empty. Restaurant sales have dropped. Without federal workers to serve, the Bickering Sisters cafe has cut the hours of its lunch service. More than 4,000 federal employees who work for the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Forest Service have been working from their jobs in this outdoorsy harbor north of Salt Lake City as part of the partial government shutdown. The closing of federal offices has been reverberated over the city of 87,000, where roughly a third of annual revenue comes from the sales tax. Far away from the behemoth federal office complexes in Washington, small towns and cities with workforces dependent on government jobs are one of the longest shutdowns in history, now more than two weeks old. Many of the affected federal workers – including 10,000 people in Utah, 6,200 in West Virginia and 5,500 in Alabama – have salaries far below the average $ 85,000 for government employees. But those paychecks drive local economies, and how to get rid of them and how to spend them – eating out, limiting travel and shopping at food pantries instead of grocery stores – creating a ripple effect through the neighborhoods and towns where they live. With President Trump predicting the shutdown could last months or even years, these towns are preparing for a long-term economic blow.
A sign on the door or Bickering Sisters announces shortened hours. (Kim Raff / for The Washington Post)
Irish Sumo, a waitress at Bickering Sisters, cleans a table at the restaurant in Ogden. (Kim Raff / for The Washington Post) "The lunches that have been missed, people are staying at home, and that really hurts our small-business community," said Tom Christopulos, director of community and economic development for Ogden. He expects the city to be a hit on the weekly sales tax revenue of $ 314,000, which could be delayed parks and roads projects. Foot traffic along the historic 25th Street commercial corridor has dropped dramatically – and so have sales at Marcy Rizzi's bookstore two blocks from the James V. Hansen Federal Building. The shutdown "has an impact," said Rizzi, owner of Booked on 25th, as she managed an empty store at lunchtime on Friday. Other shopkeepers she knows are "more liberal leaning," so they've had misgivings about the government under Trump, she said. But now that he is "willing to impact local, everyday citizens over a wall? You hear people [complaining] about that. "[[While federal workers go without pay, senior Trump administration officials are poised to get $ 10,000 raises.
Furloughed IRS employee Krystle Kirkpatrick, 31, said she and her family scrape along on her partner's machinist salary for a while, but she's already thinking about signing up to be a plasma donor to earn extra cash. That would bring in $ 200. "It's not okay with me as a bargaining chip when people do not know what they want and they can not agree," she said. "I just want to work."
Krystle Kirkpatrick plays a game with her children Taylor Kirkpatrick, 12, left, and Preston Thedell, 6, and her partner Andy Thedell at their home in Clinton, Utah. (Kim Raff / for The Washington Post) Some politicians whose constituencies include large numbers of unpaid federal workers have been measured in their comments about the shutdown. Sen. Mitt Romney (R) of Utah has strongly supported Trump's border wall proposal and has carefully weighed his words on the shutdown. "I'm concerned about the financial challenges that many Utah families and businesses could face as federal workers starting to miss paychecks. That's especially true in Ogden, the national or federal employees who work for the IRS and the US. Forest Service, "Romney said in a statement to The Washington Post. "I'm hopeful, I'll be in a safe and secure way, and that's what I do." About 2,200 workers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville , Ala., Have been furloughed, leaving nearby restaurants worried about the economic fallout. Workers are making plans to cut back on expenses, anticipating the budget crunch after the first direct deposit does not arrive in the coming days.
A federal building in downtown Ogden, Utah. (Kim Raff / for The Washington Post) For Meghan Nester, a Huntsville resident whose husband has been furloughed from the NASA facility, that's when things will get "a lot more real." Some needs to be delayed for her single-income family of five, she said. The stove will remain broken, and she will not be able to pay the $ 1,000 deposit for her child's braces. "I know how hard my husband works, and it has to be demoralized." She said. Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Doug Jones (D) or Alabama pointed to affected federal workers in his state of affairs as a result of the shutdown. "We are not doing our job and we are paying the price. More than 5,000 federal workers across Alabama were furloughed or unpaid through the holidays, "he said. "Vital Coast Guard employees, who are not paid under the Defense Department's budget, do not know if their next paycheck will come." But Rep. Mo Brooks (R), whose district includes Huntsville, has strongly supported Trump's funding demands for the US-Mexico border wall that triggered the shutdown, saying Democrats have "American blood" on their hands from people killed by undocumented immigrants.
[Explore the Post analysis: Where federal workers are going without pay] In Clarksburg, W.Va., a struggling industrial city reinventing itself amid a declining coal industry, a massive FBI complex has become a bulwark or economic stability. The complex was a signature achievement of the late senator Robert Byrd (D), who represented the state for 51 years and was passionate about bringing federal dollars into West Virginia. The burgeoning Interstate 79 technology corridor between Clarksburg and Morgantown has attracted NASA, the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with the 2,500 employees at the FBI facility. But now, that economic foundation is shaking. Workers at the FBI crime lab are deemed essential, so about 2 out of 3 remain on the job without pay. The shutdown is also hitting private contractors and support staff, local industries that have flourished with the growing federal presence. Restaurants and gas stations nearby are expecting reduced sales. "As each day goes by, I'm sure you're going to worry some more," said Jim Estep, president and chief executive of the High Technology Foundation, which lobbies for federal agencies to relocate to West Virginia. Federal workers assume that they will get their back when the shutdown is over, but that is not guaranteed, and it is unclear how long the stalemate in Washington will last. The private contractors that supply services – including information technology and custodial work – may never recoup their lost income. In a state where nearly 70 percent of voters supported Trump in 2016, the political fallout is mixed, Estep said. "You're going to have half our population saying," Hold out for that wall! Hold out for that wall! '"He said. But, hey, "Those involved in the federal contracting business are going to say, 'Look, compromise!'" West Virginia's Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin III, signaled his impatience with the duration of the shutdown, which he called "embarrassing" for Democrats and Republicans. Meanwhile, the state's Republican senator, Shelley Moore Capito, called for an agreement to reopen the government that "includes resources to strengthen border security," according to Tyler Hernandez, Capito's spokesman. Rocco Muriale, owner of Murial's Italian Kitchen, which has been serving meals in Fairmont, W.Va., since 1969, said the federal government filled a void left when coal mines closed. "A federal workforce here, along with the benefits and benefits that have been achieved, has put stability into the area," Muriale said, 68. Just not at the moment. "These people have bills and payments and house payments just like the rest of us. Put the political nonsense aside, and focus on what's best for the people, "Muriale said. He declined to share his partisan leanings but said, "I'd like to see how you can get settled."
Krystle Kirkpatrick looks at exhibits with her children at the SeaQuest Aquarium in Layton, Utah. The aquarium offered free admission to federal employees by the government shutdown. (Kim Raff / for The Washington Post) In Ogden, Catholic Community Services or Northern Utah, the regular poverty-level income requirements have been opened. The workers will be able to stay with us for a month or even if the shutdown continues. Most of the initial 50 households had never used the pantry, said CCS case manager Deborah Nielsen. "Fear. It's just plain, flat-out fear, "Nielsen said, describing how federal employees are feeling. "One lady goes," My bills keep coming. They do not shut those down. "Sophia Lopez, a 25-year veteran of the IRS, piled cereal, loaves of bread, bags of avocados, apples and other food into a shopping cart. "It's child or embarrassing to come to this," said Lopez, a 53-year-old single mother who cares for an adult disabled son. "But now it's lasted so long, and I do not know when we're going back, I have to. I'm like scrimping and scraping. "The financial security has brought her to tears, she said. Her boss recently heard that her job will be considered unfree Monday, meaning she will not get paid. "I'm really angry at the president," she said. "How can he do this to his own people?" Chris Zenger, owner of Great Harvest Bread Co., one of the closest restaurants to the federal building, estimates his sales have dropped by half. The lunch rush used to last an hour. Now, it's 20 to 30 minutes. "My mood is a little worried but still staying positive," he said. He used to go when the parking lots were packed with working government employees because his customers could not find open spots. Now he wishes the lots were not so empty. "Everyone has a little bit to the government because of stupid decisions they make," he said. "People still need to work and to make an income. It just does not seem fair or right. "Gowen and Achenbach reported from Washington.