In addition, many federal government workers who went without pay were also turning to food banks, Maehr said.
Not everyone will be paid
While government workers have already gotten their paychecks, government contractors are unlikely to get back pay, McAdams said. Some government contractor businesses even shut down as a result of the economic impact, said McAdams, who was working for the federal government as a senior advisor to US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker during the last shutdown in 2013.
“We need to continue to think about those five weeks. [For contractors] this is an ongoing problem, even if we don’t hear about it as much in the news,” she said.
Shutdowns create a lasting image problem for public service
After this year’s shutdown, McAdams said she worries fewer competitive PhDs and other highly skilled workers will go into government work. They might consider lucrative jobs in the private sector instead. “It starts to create repercussions and erode the attraction to public service,” McAdams said.
Panelists noted the role business and nonprofits can play in lieu of government but also encouraged students to volunteer or donate to organizations, consider public service, and hold their elected officials accountable in the face of any future shutdown threats.
“This is a wakeup call,” Maehr said.
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