While some federal workers may have had some savings to last them through a week of the shutdown, many are now selling their possessions at fire-sale prices on sites like Craigslist.
The Washington Post reported Friday that as the federal government shutdown prepares to enter its fourth week, government workers are now posting their belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, seeking to get whatever they can for everything from bedsheets to neckties to children’s toys. Some items for sale on Criagslist in the Washington, DC area are listed as a “shutdown special,” from baseball card collections to a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
“Sells for $93.88 at Walmart. Asking $10,” read one Craigslist ad for a Lulu Ladybug rocking chair posted by a furloughed government employee.
In some instances, Craigslist ads are even appealing to government workers who are short on cash.
“If you are a currently on furlough without pay, we can arrange a payment plan, but you can still pick it up today,” read one Craigslist ad for a bookshelf in Northern Virginia.
“You have to take a kind of coldhearted look at things around you and decide what would be marketable to someone else,” a furloughed National Parks Service employee, who has been with the agency since 2005, told the Post.
After a decision from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) prevented a bill that would reopen government agencies from coming up for a vote in his chamber Thursday, the shutdown stretching into next week seems likely. President Trump initiated the shutdown after refusing to sign a bill Congress sent to his desk that funded the government but didn’t include at least $5.7 billion for a wall along the Southern border of the U.S. — something Trump campaigned on in 2016 (and promised Mexico would pay for, not U.S. taxpayers).
This is all bad news for government workers hoping to come back to work in order to not miss their next paycheck.
Some workers in “essential” jobs, like air traffic controllers, are forced to work without pay, and have already been given checks for $0.00 due to the shutdown. And the suggestion that furloughed workers sell their possessions was apparently in a hastily deleted memo the U.S. Coast Guard sent to its members, whose paychecks come from the currently shuttered Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Department of Defense, which was already funded in a prior bill.
There are efforts underway to help struggling workers cope with financial difficulties as they wait for the shutdown to end. The AFL-CIO union is hosting a webinar Friday afternoon showing federal workers how to access Union Plus hardship programs and how to work with creditors to minimize the blow from missing a monthly payment.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.