As of this week, the gov­ern­ment shut­down is now the longest in U.S. his­to­ry.  Grant­ed, it is only a par­tial shut­down. Pre­vi­ous whole­sale shut­downs occurred in Jan­u­ary 2018 over immi­gra­tion (specif­i­cal­ly sav­ing DACA-Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrival) which last­ed 3 days and Octo­ber 2013 (over sav­ing Oba­macare) which last­ed 16 days.

These pri­or shut­downs can be used to esti­mate the eco­nom­ic impact of the cur­rent one.   Accord­ing to the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get, the Octo­ber 2013 gov­ern­ment shut­down low­ered real GDP growth by 0.2% to 0.6% — or some­where between $2 bil­lion and $6 bil­lion in lost eco­nom­ic out­put.  It is esti­mat­ed the cur­rent shut­down is knock­ing off any­where from 0.1% to 0.5% of GDP per day.  It will take quite a while for the actu­al impact to show up in eco­nom­ic stats.

The eco­nom­ic sta­tis­tics that var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies pub­lish are the lifeblood of econ­o­mists.  Divin­ing the eco­nom­ic sta­tus of the US has tak­en a hit as gov­ern­ment reports are now being delayed or, worse, not released for review.  The US Dept of Com­merce’s Bureau of Eco­nom­ic Analy­sis and Cen­sus Bureau announced they would not pub­lish eco­nom­ic data dur­ing the ongo­ing shut­down.  Reports impact­ed include key fig­ures on GDP, infla­tion, per­son­al income & spend­ing and new home sales.  On a pos­i­tive note, the Labor Depart­ment will con­tin­ue to release data regard­ing new claims for job­less ben­e­fits, the month­ly employ­ment report and oth­er infla­tion mea­sures they track.

As of now, it is esti­mat­ed 800,000 fed­er­al employ­ees are not being paid.  With­in the FBI, an esti­mat­ed 5,000 of the bureau’s 35,000 agents, ana­lysts, lawyers and oth­er per­son­nel have been fur­loughed, lim­it­ing sup­port for some sur­veil­lance and lab­o­ra­to­ry oper­a­tions. With­in the TSA (Trans­porta­tion Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion), work­ers are also not get­ting paid.  Approx­i­mate­ly 51,000 offi­cers are deemed essen­tial and are ordered to work.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many have begun to call in sick.  The TSA report­ed unsched­uled absences of its pas­sen­ger screen­ers reached 7.6% Mon­day, twice the rate from a year ago.  Once the gov­ern­ment reopens, these employ­ees will receive back pay.  So, the real­i­ty is many of these indi­vid­u­als are not work­ing and will even­tu­al­ly get paid for doing nothing.

Gov­ern­ment shut­downs are now a famil­iar occur­rence to most Amer­i­cans.  Since the Con­gres­sion­al Bud­get Act of 1974, Con­gress has failed to autho­rize fund­ing for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment on 22 sep­a­rate occa­sions.  Most of these shut­downs didn’t affect the func­tion­ing of gov­ern­ment at all.  This one, how­ev­er, could.