Government Shutdown Threat Means Uncertainty For Montana's 13,000 Federal Workers

Dec 21, 2018

A looming partial U.S. government shutdown at midnight tonight means uncertainty for the more than 13,000 federal workers in Montana.

The federal government is the second largest single employer in Montana, making up about 3 percent of the state’s workforce. Their payroll accounts for about $1.4 billion in personal income here.

“It’s a small share of our overall total economy, but still, nothing to sneeze at," says Barb Wagner, the chief economist at the Montana Department of Labor.

“So, we don’t really know exactly who will be impacted. It kind of depends on what rules come out of the Trump administration about which employees they would like to keep on the job, and and which ones will be off the job,” she says.

U.S. Forest Service.

Wagner says most of the federal government employees in Montana that could be impacted by the shutdown work for the U.S. Department of Interior, which includes the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management,  and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which includes the U.S. Forest Service.

A funding lapse for some federal government programs is approaching because of disagreements among Congress and President Donald Trump over his request for more than $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

According to the Associated Press, more than 800,000 federal workers will face furloughs or be forced to work without pay if a resolution is not reached before midnight tonight.