The government shutdown that came along with the new year was unprecedented in length and impact on federal employees. Though demonstrations, rallies, and individual stories tell some part of the picture, how exactly were government workers affected, and how would they be affected by another shutdown?
“At the start of it, we were really interested in how federal workers were affected by the government shutdown in making life choices,” O’Shaughnessy told GovLoop. “We used a software called Pollfish and had space for more questions, so we asked more. This resulted in more insights across a wide range of areas.”
O’Shaughnessy’s background is in journalism, so he has experience researching topics and creating content that delivers new information to a general audience. He was also driven by learning more about the audience that Clever Real Estate encounters.
In terms of insights, O’Shaughnessy highlighted the impact of the shutdown on federal workers. Of the 500 federal employees who responded to the survey between Feb. 1-8, approximately 35 percent stated that the shutdown affected their ability to save for or make a major life purchase. Of those respondents, 38 percent indicated that they would need to put off buying a house.
Sixty percent of federal workers stated that they had to cut back on groceries and other essentials as a direct result of the shutdown. During the shutdown, close to one in three federal workers pursued supplemental income through gigs such as Uber, Lyft and online freelancing opportunities.
O’Shaughnessy also pointed out the discontent among federal workers. Five percent quit their jobs following the shutdown, 10 percent are actively looking for other employment opportunities and 14 percent are considering looking for a new job. This could tie into their perception of the probability of another shutdown in the future. As of Feb. 11, 78 percent of federal workers believed that there would be another shutdown. On Feb. 15, President Trump signed a spending bill that fully funded the government and averted another shutdown.
On what he would improve about the study, O’Shaughnessy stated that there were questions that initially seemed interesting, but after the results came in, were found to yield little to no new insights. For example, he was curious about whether federal workers would change their political affiliations after the shutdown. There was no real change in affiliation; each side just placed blame on the other.
However, O’Shaughnessy hopes that this study, and others like it, will show politicians exactly how their actions affect everyday people. “Sometimes we get so focused on policy that we don’t consider who’s affected,” O’Shaughnessy stated.