REASON: HIGH NUMBER OF BLM, FOREST SERVICE WORKERS
Of the 11,466 federal employees in Alaska, about 5,624 are in unappropriated status, according to Governing Magazine.
That means they are either working through the federal government’s shutdown or are on furlough, waiting for Congress and the president to come to an agreement over an appropriation for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Another 5,842 federal workers in Alaska are in agencies with appropriations during the partial government shutdown and are unaffected.
The figures do not include the U.S. Postal Service, which is not dependent on federal funding.
COAST GUARD IS UNIQUE; HAS BEEN PAID SO FAR
There are approximately 2,500 active duty, reserve, civilian, and auxiliary U.S. Coast Guard personnel in Alaska. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that is working in an unappropriated status during the partial shutdown.
However, the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard ensured the workforce received a normal paycheck on Dec. 31, 2018. Retirees also received their pay, as expected.
The next paycheck for these employees, on Jan. 15, will require either an appropriation or a continuing resolution. Sen. Dan Sullivan is working on a fix for the Coast Guard.
Veterans Administration payments are not affected by the lapse in appropriations.
Most civilian employees, as well as military personnel stationed in Alaska, are still working because appropriations bills have been signed that cover several departments, including Education, Energy, Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, and others.
The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and Transportation are not yet funded. Workers at these agencies will receive back pay when the standoff between the president and congress ends and the appropriation bills are signed.
Alaska’s federal employees include 2,600 in the Department of Interior, 1,100 in Transportation, and 900 in Agriculture, mostly at the U.S. Forest Service.
The Washington Post reports that Alaska has the highest percentage of federal workers in unappropriated agencies. This is likely due to the fact that government employment represents such a large part of the Alaska economy, and the workforce is weighted toward Coast Guard, Interior, and Agriculture.
The news organization names Alaska as the top place in the country where shutdown impacts are concentrated, followed by Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia, Idaho, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. But that account may be misleading and doesn’t take into account that Coast Guard members have been paid — so far.
In Washington, D.C., more than 102,000 federal employees are in agencies without appropriations, including about 32,000 at Homeland Security and Justice. Many of those workers continue to serve without pay, although pay has always been retroactive during past shutdowns.