Motilal Oswal
  • SENSEX
    NIFTY 50
Motilal Oswal
Politics

A day in the life of a furloughed US government worker juggling odd jobs

Updated : January 25, 2019 11:21 AM IST

Furloughed US Forest Service worker Chris George has never been busier.

He scrambles daily to do handywork and small remodeling jobs at homes in the hardscrabble desert town of Hemet, east of Los Angeles. In between, he works for Lyft, spending up to 10 hours in the car just to make $100.

When he's not doing that, he is on the phone, trying to save his credit standing — now threatened thanks to the December 22 government shutdown, the longest in US history, which has left 800,000 federal workers without pay.

Many of them are dipping into savings, borrowing from friends and family and relying on payment deferments and plans as the shutdown heads into its second month.

George, a forestry technician supervisor who has worked for the US Forest Service for more than two decades doing forest fire management, was never one to be caught off guard. He used to always have two months of funds saved for emergencies. But last year he bought a home after going through a divorce and any money he made since then has gone toward remodeling it.

He never anticipated he would be left without a paycheck for this long.

George received his last paycheck December 29. His monthly check of about $267 from the US Department of Veterans Affairs is still coming but it doesn't cover much. Besides his mortgage payment, he is struggling to keep up with his car payment, utility bills and to buy food.

Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, leaves his home for a free meal offered to federal workers affected by the government shutdown Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Hemet, California.
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, leaves his home for a free meal offered to federal workers affected by the government shutdown Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Hemet, California. "I have a lot of pride, so asking for help is difficult for me. It's very difficult for me because I'm always the one giving back or putting myself before anybody else," said George. "Now, here I am in the situation where I'm the one that is in need." (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, makes a phone call in his pickup truck to set up an interview for a job as a driving instructor Monday, January 21, 2019, in Redlands, California. The 48-year-old Army veteran and federal employee has been working as a handyman and driving for Lyft to make ends meet since the government shutdown began. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, makes a phone call in his pickup truck to set up an interview for a job as a driving instructor Monday, January 21, 2019, in Redlands, California. The 48-year-old Army veteran and federal employee has been working as a handyman and driving for Lyft to make ends meet since the government shutdown began. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, takes a short break while working as a handyman to make ends meet Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, takes a short break while working as a handyman to make ends meet Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, turns the kitchen lights off as he leaves home for a free meal offered to federal workers affected by the government shutdown Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Hemet, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, turns the kitchen lights off as he leaves home for a free meal offered to federal workers affected by the government shutdown Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Hemet, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, holds cards made for his Lyft passengers Monday, January 21, 2019, in Redlands, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, holds cards made for his Lyft passengers Monday, January 21, 2019, in Redlands, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, fixes a water pipe while working as a handyman Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, fixes a water pipe while working as a handyman Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, fixes a bathroom faucet, Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, fixes a bathroom faucet, Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, installs a gas stove Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, installs a gas stove Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George's pickup truck displays a Lyft sticker on its back window outside a home where he works as a handyman, Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George's pickup truck displays a Lyft sticker on its back window outside a home where he works as a handyman, Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Fontana, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, shakes hands with a passenger in his pickup truck while driving for Lyft to make ends meet Monday, January 21, 2019, in Redlands, California.
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, shakes hands with a passenger in his pickup truck while driving for Lyft to make ends meet Monday, January 21, 2019, in Redlands, California. "Sometimes I stay at home because I don't want to waste my gas driving around making $30 when it's going to cost me $40 to put gas in my vehicle," said George. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, looks for a document in his room adorned with Smokey Bear posters Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Hemet, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, looks for a document in his room adorned with Smokey Bear posters Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Hemet, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, takes off his boots at his home adorned with an American flag after spending the day working as a handyman Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Hemet, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, takes off his boots at his home adorned with an American flag after spending the day working as a handyman Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Hemet, California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, orders his meal at a Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Redlands, California. The restaurant offered free meals to furloughed federal employees affected by the government shutdown. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, orders his meal at a Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Redlands, California. The restaurant offered free meals to furloughed federal employees affected by the government shutdown. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, waits for his meal at a Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Redlands, California. The restaurant offered free meals to furloughed federal employees affected by the government shutdown. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Chris George, a federal employee furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, waits for his meal at a Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant Saturday, January 19, 2019, in Redlands, California. The restaurant offered free meals to furloughed federal employees affected by the government shutdown. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Live TV

Ask Our Experts CNBC TV18

Send your queries on investments and have them answered by our experts

Enter your details

Post