Around the country, some local economies that are heavily reliant on the federal government are already hurting because of the ongoing government shutdown. Here are three spots being impacted in an outsized way:
Since the shutdown began, many national parks and monuments have been closed to the public or have severely limited their services. In the days after Yellowstone National Park shut its gates, hundreds of tourists—the vast majority of them visiting from overseas—have been flooding the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce and other local visitor centers looking for advice on what to do. In New England, federally-run sites such as the USS Constitution, Bunker Hill Monument, Faneuil Hall Visitor Center, and Acadia National are off limits to the public.
“It’s going to be a kind of ripple effect,” Sean Hennessey, spokesman for the National Park Service, said to the Boston Globe, of the national park closures. “There’s a significant economic impact that our national parks have in their communities.”
In particular: communities in the national park-heavy counties of southern Utah. This week, officials from nine Utah counties (plus two more in neighboring Arizona) discussed strategies for alleviating the pain of the shutdown—which has closed not only national parks, but the area’s abundance of federal campgrounds and national forests as well. Utah’s Washington County, home to Zion National Park, declared a local state of emergency. “This closure is having a devastating impact on those Washington County residents that rely on visitors to federally managed land, especially those that rely almost exclusively on visitors to Zion,” reads a resolution passed unanimously by the county commission that urges Congress to open national parks. Several nearby counties, where federally funded attractions like Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Lake Powell are found, have also issued declarations of emergency.
“It’s unfortunate that the paralysis in Washington is affecting people in the service industry of our community,” said Springdale Town Manager Rick Wixom, according to the St. George News. Springdale, located within Zion, normally sees thousands of visitors daily, but lately the sidewalks have been empty and workers have had their hours reduced. “They’re the ones being hurt.”
The shutdown is having an outsized impact in military towns such as Fayetteville, which is home to Fort Bragg, as well as countless federal contractors, retired and active members of the military, and local business owners that rely on all of the above for their livelihoods.
Confusion and uncertainty has reigned in recent days, with more than 7,000 Fort Bragg civilian employees furloughed as of October 1, though about 4,000 of those (the ones who belong to the American Federation of Government Employees union) were expected to return to work as of Tuesday, the Fayetteville Observer reported. The Los Angeles Times spoke to several Fayetteville business owners, who are worried that they would be hurt in the short run—and are even more worried that a continued shutdown will scare away investment in the community and jeopardize the city’s transformation of downtown from an area known for prostitution and strip joints to a family-friendly environment featuring nice restaurants and boutique shops.
Greater Washington, D.C.
Unsurprisingly, the area in and around the nation’s capital is feeling perhaps the most direct and severe impact from the shutdown. At least 26,000 furloughed federal government workers in the District and Maryland have filed for unemployment, per the Associated Press, and that tally doesn’t include furloughed workers residing in Virginia, nor business owners and workers who normally make a living via federal contracts. The D.C. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to 5,000 local businesses, urging them to forward it to their representatives in Congress in order to “stop the madness” and end the shutdown, which is causing serious damage to restaurants, tour operators, and other local enterprises.
Federal workers reportedly constitute 12.6% of all employees in the D.C. area, compared to 2.1% nationally. A new study from WalletHub states that Washington, D.C., and Maryland have the most federal workers per capita, and that Virginia (ranking fifth in federal workers per capita) is the state that is most affected overall by the shutdown, once federal contract money and other data are factored in. It can all trickle down to hurt local businesses and even government budgets in a significant way. According to Reuters, a report issued Monday from Moody’s Investor Service stated that the credit of counties in the larger D.C. area could suffer in light of diminishing income tax revenues and sales tax collections.