The partial government shutdown has now dragged on for over a month, and there's no end in sight as Democrats continue battling with the President over border security. And now, a growing number of federal workers, fed up with the partisan gridlock on both sides, say they're ready to move on - to another career.
Some 800,000 workers are still not receiving paychecks. The length of this shutdown is unprecedented, and it has some of those workers considering a career change, with a growing number reporting they've been attending job fairs and looking at help wanted ads - aiming to either get a second job to make ends meet, or simply leave government service altogether. Lorie Mccann is a 28-year-veteran of the I.R.S. in Chicago. She says her co-workers are telling stories of skipping medication, shopping at food banks, and filing for unemployment insurance. "I wouldn't think that after 28 years, I would have to file for unemployment, and I did," she said. "But if it continues, I will have to get a second job."
The Unions who represent those workers warn it could create a "brain drain," with the federal government no longer able to attract top talent. But at least one employer is taking advantage of the situation: school districts around Washington. They've been holding job fairs specifically targeting furloughed government employees, with hundreds often waiting in line to source out new opportunities. And the schools aren't just looking for teachers. One recruiter told a group of government workers, "you can be a bus driver, you can be on transportation, you can be on security, you can be on clerical...if you want to be a unicorn I can find you a job here."
And the process seems to be working for a growing number of furloughed workers. Jonathan Root is a NASA program manager who recently attended a job fair, saying times had been tough since the partial shutdown started, and he's worried he won't have the money to pay for his daughter's school tuition. "Meeting various obligations are difficult," he said, "and it's important for me to take positive action where I can to improve my situation."
It’s also working for the schools themselves, with students exposed to a wider range of practical experience in the classroom. Dana Edwards, the head of human resources for Montgomery County schools, just outside of D.C., says "the skill set is amazing, in terms of just what they are currently doing, what they've done in the past, but also their current interests right now. And I think it is an amazing opportunity for kids." And with no end to the stalemate in sight, the shutdown may ultimately end up benefitting the community, and the government’s loss could become the students’ gain.