My “day job” is working for the federal government. I’m considered “nonessential,” so if no budget is passed by Monday morning, I’ll be furloughed, without pay, until there’s a deal.
(I don’t like the term “nonessential.” It makes it sound like our jobs are meaningless, and that’s not true. It just means sending us home isn’t going to endanger anyone in the short term. No one will die if some research papers don’t get edited for a while.)
For me personally, a furlough isn’t a huge problem in the short term. I have some cushion, some savings, so I’d be fine for a little while, at least. If a shutdown stretched into the 21 days that the last one did, things would get dicey, even if we’re given back pay at the end of it.
My sister (also my roommate) works as a government contractor. Some contractors will be allowed to take leave time if there’s a shutdown (direct employees will not), but she doesn’t have any available right now. She wouldn’t get paid for any furlough time.
Now, we’re on the high end of the scale. I can cover for my sister in the short term. We have money in the bank, available credit, and plenty of food, plus she just got her tax refund, and I have two royalty payments coming later in the month.
The worst thing about the shutdown is the situation with the military. Active duty troops would keep right on working, in many cases fighting, but they wouldn’t get paid until a budget is passed. Meanwhile, Congressional pay is mandatory, so they’d get paid to keep squabbling.
Sigh. I didn’t mean to get all political here. Long story short, if we get furloughed, I’m going to spend the time writing. It doesn’t pay as well as the day job, but it’s certainly better than nothing.