Menu

Politics

EXECUTIVE

With Shutdown Near, Federal Workers Face Layoffs, Jobless Benefits

 

If the federal government shuts down Friday night, more than 2 million federal workers across the country are facing temporary layoffs or no paychecks. Yet for the 800,000 workers who would be laid off -- deemed non-essential -- they can file for unemployment benefits.

By midday, most federal employees had been told whether they have been deemed essential or would be temporarily laid off. But exactly when they can file for benefits and the amount they receive depends on the state where they work.

Contrary to popular belief, about 85 percent of federal workers work outside of Washington. Many of them are concentrated in Maryland, Virginia, California, Texas, Florida and New York.

In Maryland, where there are 262,000 federal workers, they qualify for unemployment benefits from the first day of a shutdown, and could get a maximum of $430 a week.

Mike Raia, spokesman for the state Department of Labor, said the division has plans in place to handle additional claims.

"If the shutdown happens on Friday, there will be an application up on that site early next week, either Monday or Tuesday, that will allow federal employees to file their claim online," he said.

It takes a week for federal employees in Virginia and D.C. to qualify. The top benefit in Washington is $359, and $378 in Virginia.

There's a one-week waiting period in California, where there are 254,100 federal government workers, 62,000 of them in the Department of Defense. The top benefit is $450.

Kevin Callori, spokesman for the state Employment Development Department, told FoxNews.com that the department is not doing anything "out of the ordinary" in the event of a flood of claims due to a prolonged shutdown.

"We've gotten used to that with the current recession," he said. "We have staff available. We should be able to handle that."

New York, which has 130,000 federal workers, also said it was ready for a shutdown.

"A federal government shutdown will not impact New York's ability to disburse regular, extended and emergency unemployment benefits to claimants," Leo Rosales, spokesman for the state Department of Labor, told FoxNews.com.

In Texas, there are about 200,000 federal employees who can apply for benefits as soon as shutdown occurs. The maximum benefit is $415.

In Florida, the federal government's 175,000 workers can apply for benefits immediately. The top benefit is $275.

It's not yet clear which workers get to stay on the job during a shutdown. Under long-standing federal rules, agencies would not be affected that provide for U.S. national security, dispense most types of federal benefit payments, offer inpatient medical care or outpatient emergency care, ensure the safe use of food and drugs, manage air traffic, protect and monitor borders and coastlines, guard prisoners, conduct criminal investigations and law enforcement, oversee power distribution and oversee banks.

Mail deliveries would continue in the event of a shutdown. U.S. postal operations are not subsidized by tax dollars.

In Washington, 21,000 employees have been deemed essential and are expected to work. That includes police officers, firefighters and emergency officials as well as officials who work in public health and with school-age children. Notifications were going out Friday afternoon to employees.

Non-essential employees won't be able to come to work, volunteer or use their government-issued Blackberries.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the nation's largest federal union, filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over the looming shutdown, arguing that ordering federal employees to work without pay during a shutdown violates the U.S. Constitution.

"Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be required to work during a shutdown, and there's no guarantee that Congress will keep the administration's promise to pay those employees once the shutdown is over," AFGE National President John Gage said in a statement.

Capital News Service's Laura E. Lee and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

FOX NEWS FIRST NEWSLETTER

Daily must-read stories from the biggest name in politics

Subscribe Get the full text emailed to you daily