As the federal government shutdown limps into its 10th day, some furloughed workers are using the time off to consider what it means to be a government worker, and also to prepare for the unexpected.
John Healey, 39, is a senior analyst with the Government Accountability Office. He says that, as an employee of the U.S. government, being furloughed is not what one would expect.
"It was a big surprise, because we had to wait until midnight on the 30th, or the morning of the 1st to realize that we don't have to go into work that day or were prohibited from working," Healey says. "Now, each day is the same thing, I wake up wondering when we might open again."
And it's not as if he could use the time to catch up on work, even though he's not getting paid, because, as he says, "We can't access the computer systems and we can't go in the building."
As a bachelor, Healey says he's put away some savings, so for now money is not an issue. He's passing the time taking some courses online, and although he makes it clear he likes his job and expects to return, Healey is making sure his resume is in order.
"Just in case," he says. "Hopefully it won't come to that, I like working in the public sector, but it's been a challenge for everyone."
Healey admits, unlike himself, some furloughed government workers may feel disappointed, disillusioned and unsure of the future. He suspects many may be actively looking for work elsewhere. Healey suggests those who find jobs and leave the government sector will most likely be among the best and the brightest.
"The unfortunate side of this kind of turnover is that I think the federal government may be about to lose some of its most qualified workers, because they are the one who are most able to look elsewhere," Healey says. "Right now we have the risk of brain drain and the loss of institutional knowledge that goes along with that."
Of the estimated 800,000 workers furloughed, some were called back this week as government agencies begin to prioritize work needs
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