With 136,911 federal workers in the state, Georgia residents are more affected by the partial government shutdown than the nation’s capital, according to The National Treasury Employees Union.
The state is also home to the largest airport in the world, and more than a quarter of those federal employees work for the Transportation Security Administration. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently tweeted the number of TSA workers is just shy of 30,000.
@ATLairport is the busiest in the world and largest job center in the state. More than 26k private, many of whom are hourly workers, and their families will also be impacted if this #govermentshutdown doesn’t end NOW.
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) January 5, 2019
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is granting them free parking in response to the furlough, but that doesn’t alleviate the burden of their missing paychecks.
But it’s not only the federal workers who are hurt by the shutdown.
Yowonda Jones of Macon fears the government that promises to “do right and feed everyone” in its Department of Agriculture motto, soon won’t be able to.
She uses the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, benefits provided by the USDA to feed her 10-month-old son.
“Currently, I am homeless,” Jones said. “And I need all the help I can get right now to feed my children.”
The USDA recently pledged to release all February WIC and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits in January to help alleviate the strain Cash flow for the agency stops on Jan. 19.
About 1.8 million Georgians rely on those monthly benefits to keep food on the table. They share Jones’ fears, as does the manager of the Carver Neighborhood Market.
The market is located inside southside Atlanta’s food desert, and acts as the local grocery store providing relief for lower income customers.
Manager Josh Barber said they offer regular weekly “buy one get two” specials to SNAP recipients who now aren’t guaranteed to receive their monthly benefits.
“[The shutdown] affects people’s ability to buy food, and their ability to buy as much as they need or to be able to purchase anything at all,” Barber said.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Americans should be reassured that the government shutdown will not affect SNAP.
“Our motto here at USDA has been to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone,’” Perdue said. “With this solution, we’ve got the ‘Feed Everyone’ part handled. And I believe that the plan we’ve constructed takes care of the ‘Do Right’ part as well.”
Jones will be able to feed her family next month, but more than 100,000 Georgia government employees on unpaid furlough may not be able to if the shutdown continues much longer.