4 Lesser-Known Effects of the Government Shutdown

by Alyssa Oursler | October 1, 2013 4:55 pm

american-flag-closeup-185As you probably know, today marked the start of a new fiscal year for the good ol’ U.S. of A — one that’s getting underway without an agreed-upon budget in place, resulting in a government shutdown.

And you’ll probably feel it one way or another.

See, the federal government is the nation’s largest employer. That means that lots of folks had to read furlough letters this morning … and others connected to those government agencies are feeling the impact of that reality, too.

Business will continue as usual in many ways, sure — Social Security recipients will receive benefits[1], the Postal Service will continue its delivery and taxes will be collected. And Congress — despite the fact that it couldn’t come to a spending agreement — still will get paid, of course.

But beyond that, the government shutdown also will impact some services and spot that you might not expect. Take a look at just a few government shutdown effects you might not have seen coming:

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Field Trips

pandazoo185Somewhere, fourth-graders that were counting down to a National Zoo or Smithsonian field trip this week are confused and sad. Of course, their teacher simply has to explain that there’s a government shutdown — I’m sure they’ll understand.

Of course, this doesn’t just affect field trippers, but also tourists and travelers.

All of them will miss out on the Smithsonian, National Gallery of Art, Great Smoky Mountains, Statue of Liberty, Lincoln Memorial, Ellis Island, Independence Hall and more, which are all closed to the public starting today, along with national battle monuments and parks. Even the National Zoo is shut down — which means its adorable and awesome panda cam is cut off, too.

Meanwhile, NASA is no longer giving tours or public access to its facilities, as 97% of its employees are furloughed.

And Yosemite National Park is closed — on the park’s 123rd birthday.

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Real Trips

passport185It’s not just folks traveling to national landmarks that are in for a rude awakening, though. Folks planning to travel out of the country — or foreigners trying to get in — could be in for a rude awakening, too.

Consular operations for the Department of State will continue, meaning folks can continue to get visas and passports … in theory.

But if you need to snag a relatively last-minute passport, I wouldn’t get your hopes up. For one, any passport offices located in shut-down buildings simply can’t go about their normal business. And delays are to be expected.

“During the other government shut down in 1995-1996, 20,000 to 30,000 applications by foreigners for visas went unprocessed each day, while 200,000 U.S. applications for passports went unprocessed,” Fox News reports[3].

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Radio185aEven if you don’t realize it, the Federal Communications Committee is responsible for a lot that you encounter in day-to-day activities. More or less, the agency regulates communication via radio, television, wireless, satellite and cable — whether than means bleeping out bad words or managing the radio spectrum.

But while many large agencies are partially shut down, the FCC is offline and 98% of its staff is furloughed.

A laundry list of daily activities[4] will come to an abrupt halt, including consumer complaint and inquiries, consumer protection, licensing services, radio spectrum management, equipment authorizations and more. Plus, pending mergers and transactions that require FCC approval will be shelved.

That includes media giant Gannett’s (GCI[5]) acquisition of Belo — a move that was recently approved by the latter’s shareholders but has seen two objections filed with the FCC.

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Laptop185It doesn’t seem like it should take much to keep government websites up and running, considering just about any Joe Schmo can create their own online blog. Still, websites for the Library of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, USA.gov, National Park Service and more are offline already, while other sites are running but will only be updated periodically, if at all.

Plus, a plethora of furloughed government agencies spend a lot of their time analyzing, compiling and releasing data. The research branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will no longer be cranking out market news reports, NASS statistics and other reports/projections.

Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will “cease providing high-quality data that is used for public planning,” according to [6]CNN[7].

And for market watchers: Friday’s job report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics remains up in the air. CNN says that it’s “unclear” what the agency will do for the slated Oct. 4 release, but USA Today reports[8] that it will be delayed due to a lack of staffers, according to an official with direct knowledge.

  1. Social Security recipients will receive benefits: https://investorplace.com/2013/09/government-shutdown-social-security-medicare-medicaid/
  2. Compare Brokers: https://investorplace.com/options-trading/broker-center/
  3. Fox News reports: http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2013/09/30/questions-answered-impact-government-shutdown-on-travelers/
  4. laundry list of daily activities: http://transition.fcc.gov/Plan-for-Orderly-Shutdown-September-2013.pdf
  5. GCI: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=GCI
  6. according to : http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2013/09/politics/government-shutdown-impact/
  7. CNN: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2013/09/politics/government-shutdown-impact/
  8. USA Today reports: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/09/30/jobs-report-government-shutdown/2897563/

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