We tend to think of “federal workers” as those in Washington, D.C., making big money, having too many paid holidays and otherwise living the good life off our tax dollars.

But the longest government shutdown in United States history is reminding us that federal employees live and work everywhere, and many of them live paycheck to paycheck “just like everybody else,” as one local employee told us.

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In fact, federal employee salaries on average lag behind those of similar private-sector workers by just under 32 percent, the Federal Salary Council reported last year. It said that what is commonly called the “pay gap” is 31.86 percent, and it had improved from the 34-35 percent range previously. Surprisingly, the second-widest gap behind the San Francisco area is in the Washington-Baltimore area — the heart of the federal government.

The tradeoff has always been that government provided lucrative health and retirement benefits compared to the private sector. But the shutdown is also exposing that, regardless of pay or benefits, a job in the federal government doesn’t provide the satisfaction of job security it once did.

“The end of the shutdown is not the end of the harm,” Max Stier, chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group that has surveyed job satisfaction in government agencies for the last 15 years, told The Washington Post for a story Tuesday.

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As Day 26 dawns for the shutdown, it has become a crisis for many employees. They are unable to pay mortgages or rent, vehicle payments and other long-term loans, and even the basics like utilities — and food.

We’re pleased to see that Manna for the Many, the Shamokin-based food pantry, is taking action. Manna next week will begin offering food for federal workers on Mondays until the shutdown is over. It is the type of community help, and nonpartisan show of support, that these workers desperately need.

Perhaps other organizations can step up to provide help or simply show support for workers who provide thankless services that we often don’t fully understand and appreciate — until they’re no longer available.

(1) comment


I do sympathize with the federal workers who are not getting paid but there are many inequites within the smelly DCSwamp Fairness and common sense means nothing within the many Swamps throughout the United States. I have a thousand questions and will post only a few. Is it fair that one federal employee works but doesn't get paid until later? Is it fair that one federal employee works while the other stays at home but also gets paid later? Is it fair that some so-called essential workers call in sick in essential jobs like TSA while the government is shut down because some idiots don't agree that a fence/barrier keeps us safer in certain sections of the southern border? Is it fair that Fake News has convinced the majority of Americans that a fence/wall/barrier is not needed when it has proven to work in the past and been supported by the same folks, Pelosi and Schumer, who keep the government shut down? There are not many jobs in our Country where you are guaranteed a paycheck for not working or contributing to society because your bosses are too stupid to fund your job. This is called welfare so why doesn't the government pay for these folks to show up for work by funding only the wage portion of the agency involved. Why are Congress and the President getting paid while others our not? These Swamp Creatures don't care about federal workers. Why is some of the defense folks getting paid and the Coast Guard is not? And why do we have non-essential employees to begin with. And why does Fake News promote socialism which would make matters only worse. Only in the Swamps can Swamp Creatures exist and let this happen so why not drain them?

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