Just How Costly Was the Shutdown?

Illustration by Chelsea Pieroni

Clearly, with the government coming to a grinding halt in October, hundreds of thousands of workers being furloughed wasn’t going to be good for the economy. But just how bad was it? According to a Thursday report released by the White House Office of Management and Budget, the cost of furlough productivity loss alone tallies up to $2 billion.

According to the report, federal government furloughs resulted in a total of 6.6 million missed days of work for the 16-day partial shutdown, and the total compensation cost, including benefits, was around $2.5 billion. According to the Office of Management and Budget, federal employees “were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days, more than in any previous government shutdown,” noting that at its peak, furloughed workers hit about 850,000 per day — dropping after the implementation of the Pay Our Military Act

According to the Washington Post, some states, like Alaska, felt the closures worst. The crab fishing season was put off three or four days — which costs thousands in potential revenue, and nearly 6,300 kids in the Head Start program went without until private parties stepped in to cover the slack — after nine days of waiting.

Another major area of concern is the overall economic impact of the shutdown, which the report says outside experts believe will reduce Gross Domestic Product Growth by 0.2 to 0.6 percent. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that the government shutdown and default scare has resulted in the loss of as many as 120,000 private sector jobs being created in the first two weeks of October.

According to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, “The report makes clear that the costs and impacts of the shutdown were significant and widespread, and demonstrates why this type of self-inflicted wound should not occur again.” She is undoubtedly referring to the fact that because congress put off a lot of the major items of budgetary contention in order to avoid a default with the first shutdown, they may come to be deadlocked once again, and December brings with it the next debt ceiling deadline.

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