Faring Better Than Others in a Shutdown

Faring Better Than Others in a Shutdown

As 2019 began, the United States was in a partial federal government shutdown over proposed funding deliberations that created a lot of different problems for people all over the country, particularly federal employees. In total, the shutdown that kicked off the year lasted 35 days, the longest in U.S. history. Prior to that, there were two brief shutdowns in 2018 as well.

Nationally, for the events that started out this year, about 800,000 government workers weren’t receiving their paychecks or were furloughed. There are a higher percentage of these workers in different regions, so that got us wondering – just how much was Indiana impacted?


Five Ways to an Answer

Fortunately, our inquiry ran into a bit of luck. Almost two weeks into the 2019 shutdown, WalletHub, a credit and financial advisory firm owned by D.C.-based Evolution Finance, Inc., published data on the states that were most and least affected.

To build their findings, WalletHub used five different metrics that “spoke to how people across the country will be affected by the absence of government services.” These were scored and weighted before being averaged to construct the final state ranking. Their data came from the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and others. The five metrics were:

  • Federal employment as a share of total employment (double weight, about 28.57 points)
  • Federal contract dollars per capita (full weight, about 14.29 points)
  • Percent of families receiving food stamps, SNAP (double weight, about 28.57 points)
  • Real estate as percentage of gross state product (full weight, about 14.29 points)
  • Access to national parks (full weight, about 14.29 points)


What About Hoosiers?

It turns out, Indiana was one of the least affected states in the country. Each state was ranked from 1 through 51 (including D.C.), with 51 being the least affected state.

Indiana ranked 47th overall out of 51.

  • Our state’s share of federal jobs ranked in the 40s among all states. Only about 1.25 percent of Indiana jobs are federal.
  • We also ranked in the 40s for federal contract dollars per capita. There is only about $700 federal contract dollars per capita here, whereas many other states have well over $1,000.
  • We also ranked in the 40s for real estate as a percentage of gross state product. The report stated that mortgage processing was affected by staffing shortages in the IRS, FHA, and VA.
  • Indiana ranked dead last for its access to national parks.
  • And lastly, our highest scoring metric was in the 30s for our percentage of families receiving SNAP.


Other Areas that were Impacted

Although we did very well compared to our neighbors, Hoosier citizens were still affected by the shutdown. Indiana farmers, already losing money due to the trade tariffs imposed at the time, were losing additional money due to the Farm Service Agency’s closing. This organization dispenses subsidies to Hoosier farmers.

Several hundred air traffic controllers in Indiana had to work without pay. The number of controllers overall is at an all-time low, compounding stress and the potential for dangerous gaps in safety.

Also, the National Forest Service closed its offices in southern Indiana and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s offices in Bloomington closed, meaning that several recreation areas, campgrounds, and visitor centers throughout the state were closed as well.


Could’ve Been Worse

Although the closings and lack of funds for various Hoosier workers was certainly a terrible thing, it seems that it could have been a lot worse. Due to our state’s unique position in terms of the federal government’s activities here, the blow of the shutdown was softer than it was on other states. That’s likely not much consolation for the individuals that were directly affected, but it does lighten the impact on our economy overall.

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Category Features, Rule of Law