As the partial government shutdown approaches the record for the longest shutdown in history, it's  clear that it represents a serious threat to the economy -- one that any business owner or leader needs to be concerned about.

In the last 24 hours or so, the Trump administration made a series of announcements and decisions that have made its impact even more obvious.

No sooner had it administration move to pay tax refunds and disburse SNAP benefits, which avoided more than a $100 million hit to the economy, than other issues started popping up.

1. Coast Guard garage sales

More than 800,000 federal government workers are facing their first missed paycheck this week as a result of the shutdown, which adds up to an estimated $5.6 billion a month that they won't have to spend on rent, mortgages, food, and other necessities.

In that context, 6,500 Coast Guard employees were given a government "tip sheet" this week advising that they make up for their missed pay by doing things like "holding a garage sale, babysitting, dog-walking or [working] as a 'mystery shopper,'" according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

2. FDA shutdown

How's this for timing? The Food and Drug Administration made two announcements. First, it warned that some chocolate and caramels were being recalled because of fears of a hepatitis A contamination.

Then, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the Post that his agency has "suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities," thus putting off the very kinds of inspections that turned up the hepatitis A report earlier in the day.

Sometime next week, Gottlieb said, they hope to bring inspectors back to start examining the most high-risk facilities.

3. Payments to farmers

File this one as apparently another of the shutdown ramifications that the administration said it hadn't understood until last week, two weeks after the shutdown started.

American farmers who had been promised Department of Agriculture payments to offset the losses they're taking because of the trade war with China were reporting that they hadn't been able to apply because most department workers are furloughed.

On Tuesday, after media started reporting the story, the Agriculture Department said it would extend the January 15 deadline, in the hopes that the shutdown will end before the farmers have a chance to apply.

4. TSA officers quitting

Federal government workers can't strike even when they're being required to work without paychecks, as is the case with almost 400,000 employees. Most won't simply quit, however, because they've put in years to accrue seniority and pension benefits, and because they assume they'll ultimately get back pay when the shutdown ends.

But that's not necessarily the case with Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to show up without paychecks, but who generally have lots less tenure with the government and don't make as much money to begin with. As a result, according to the TSA union, an increasing number are simply quitting.

5. The U.S. credit rating got a warning

Earlier Tuesday, one of the big credit rating agencies, Fitch, warned that the ongoing shutdown was increasing concerns that the government might not be able to agree to raise the debt ceiling in March. That fear could well prompt the agency to lower its credit rating of the United States as a whole, it warned.

"A downgrade of the nation's pristine credit rating could lead to higher borrowing costs for the U.S. Treasury, companies and consumers," according to NPR, which reported the warning.

6. Uber and GoFundMe see lots of supply

This isn't an announcement so much as a report, but it's another ramification.

Uber and Lyft drivers in cities like Washington say demand has gone way down during the shutdown, but they're also getting hit from another direction: a significant increase in supply due to furloughed federal employees deciding to drive for rideshare companies while they're out of work.

Another option: crowdfunding. As I write this, 9,724 GoFundMe campaigns come up in a search for "shutdown," some started by members of the Coast Guard. Most have raised only a few hundred dollars. But not everyone supports the workers.

"Live within your means or get a different job," one commenter wrote, as discovered by the New York Post. "So disgraceful you have to resort to begging on GoFundMe."

I talk with a lot of business owners, some who blame President Trump for the shutdown, some who blame the Republicans in Congress, and some who blame the Democrats.

In a big way, that's not the issue for them. Because when this started on December 22, almost everyone thought it would be over quickly. Now, it's morphed quickly into the kind of shutdown that nobody expected--and they truly just want it to end.

But it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon.

Published on: Jan 10, 2019
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