A day in the life of a furloughed US government worker juggling odd jobs
Updated : 2019-01-25 11:21:44
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.