“Initially, our primary interest was the shutdown’s effect on housing market trends — that is, whether or not it impeded the ability of federal workers to purchase homes, make mortgage payments, repair or renovate, save for retirement, etc.,” wrote Clever Real Estate Research Analyst Tommy O'Shaughnessy in a news release on the survey results.
“However, the data we collected tells a much larger story than we initially expected, providing granular insights into a wide range of areas, from the shutdown’s impact on government workers’ sense of job security to their political leanings, spending habits, general state of financial well-being and preparedness and more."
Of the 500 federal employees surveyed, 35 percent said that the government shutdown had impacted their ability to save for and make major life purchases, with 38 percent of those saying that they would have to put off buying a house.
Meanwhile, many feds had to cut back on smaller, everyday purchases, with 60 percent saying that they had to reduce spending on groceries and other essentials because of the shutdown.
Though all furloughed and excepted employees received back pay after the partial government shutdown ended in late January, many have yet to get complete, accurate paychecks, as some agencies opted to take out the maximum amount of deductions in order to increase the speed of paycheck delivery.
Agencies already have plans to make sure future paychecks make up the difference of what employees are missing.
But some federal employees were forced to take out loans during the shutdown in order to pay the bills, which come with an interest that their back pay will not make up.
According to the survey, 23 percent of feds said that two or more weeks without pay would force them to dip into savings or borrow money. An additional 22 percent would only be able to last about a month.
Some feds missed mortgage or rent payments because of the shutdown.
“More than eight percent of respondents say they missed a mortgage payment and over seven percent missed a rent payment — further evidence that many federal workers are living paycheck to paycheck,” the survey said.
And approximately a third of employees resorted to gig employment through ride-sharing services or online freelancing during the shutdown to make ends meet.
“Historically, government jobs have been thought of as stable and safe, relative to the private sector. However, it seems that for some federal workers, the shutdown has shattered their sense of security. Many of them are either actively seeking or considering alternative employment opportunities,” the survey said.
Five percent of respondents said they had already quit or were planning to quit their jobs, while 10 percent were actively looking for a new place to work and 15 percent were considering doing so.