The shutdown of the federal government is beginning to take a toll on individuals and businesses in Kern County.

As the disruption entered its fourth week — Friday marked its 21st day, making it the longest stretch of unfunded federal operations in U.S. history — employees who either were forced to work without pay or were furloughed reported sagging morale and mounting financial strains.

Tehachapi resident Ryan Squires is among those who has to work but isn't receiving regular pay. An air traffic controller at Edwards Air Force Base, he expects to receive a paycheck next week for $28.15, far below the usual amount, because of the shutdown.

"The job's already stressful," he said, "but the added stress of not knowing how long I'll be able to pay my mortgage and car ... it's demoralizing." He added he's considering selling his truck "as a first step" to protect his finances, and that he may have to borrow from his retirement savings if the shutdown carries on much longer.

Businesses, too, have felt the pinch as loans that were expected to be funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration have been put on indefinite hold. That could force some business people with major deals pending to consider other options with less favorable terms.

"We have quite a few customers that are kind of in this no-man's land," said A.J. Antongiovanni, president and CEO of Bakersfield-based Mission Bank, which offers two types of SBA loans. He declined to say how many customers' loans are on hold or how much money is at stake.

Nationwide, some 800,000 federal workers missed their first paychecks Friday, and there was little sign of a break in the political impasse that led to the shutdown.

It's difficult to say exactly how many Kern residents are going without pay because of the shutdown, as there is no clearinghouse of federal records showing who is affected and where they live. But The Californian's reporting suggests perhaps 1,000 or more workers in the county are being furloughed or working without pay.

One thing's clear: It could be worse. Federal records show Kern County has nearly 9,000 federal workers, which ranks it the 46th among U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest federal workforces.

Many of those workers, however, continue to be paid because they work for the U.S. Department of Defense at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station or Edwards, both located in eastern Kern County.

“The people at (China Lake) are working like they normally do,” said county Supervisor Mick Gleason, who represents portions of eastern Kern. He said he has heard from no one negatively impacted by the shutdown.

Other federal operations have also continued to run locally, including the Bakersfield Federal Courthouse. But smaller offices — ranger stations, the Goodwin Education Center at Carrizo Plain National Monument — are shuttered.

Squires and his wife, Kate, figure they will miss their planned vacation in Thailand this year because of the financial shortfall the shutdown has created. While he expects to be repaid for the money he was supposed to be paid, she probably won't be because of her status as a contract employee at Edwards' NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center.

Kate Squires, a public affairs specialist, said she hasn't worked since about Christmas. On Friday, she filed for unemployment benefits.

She's not the only one in that situation: Most of the 1,200 people at the NASA Armstrong center are furloughed, she said.

"People are on pins and needles, nervous for what's to come," she said. "Were all just watching the news anxiously and hoping that this ends soon."

John Cox can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf. Sign up at Bakersfield.com for free newsletters on local business.

(10) comments

byebyeCA

Have they ever considered getting another job? Who knows they may find a job better than their government welfare job.

She Dee

@byebyeCA- The gov employees that I know have all told me that it certainly MAY be an option to seek jobs elsewhere...but the one thing they worry about is the loss of their retirement, loss of medical care, & job security. That last one is kind of funny, considering the current state of affairs. All have said that anyone working less than 5 years won't suffer much of a loss, but the people who have chosen to make this a career & put their entire adult lives into working for the government appear to be the ones at the highest risk for a sudden lifetime change.

ISpy

*due*

alexkelley

So much drivel & tripe. 21 days DOES NOT BREAK A PERSON OR FAMILY unless they are abject morons or have a spending disease. Either way, a story such as this is merely meant to illicit unnecessary pity & anger. “Little Johnny will starve & grandma will not get her SSI check.” Classic liberal pandering & hype. Unemployment is even warranted at this point. This story is meant to draw in the conspiracy theorists & liberal reader base of this rag paper & the writer who needs feedback to validate THEIR job. No one is starving, no one is dying, no one is losing their home or car or sanity OVER THE SHUTDOWN. If anyone is under financial strain or loss, it is because THEY failed to be prepared for financial pinches. Gluttony, avarious spending, no savings or credit, gambling/drugs, alcohol, having babies w/o concern for ability to support...whatever. It is not because of the shutdown. Agenda-driven media always likes to use so-called special interest stories to personalize & dramatize BUT they always fail to tell the whole story of a person’s dilemma. Why does tat guy already have to sell his truck; why does that young woman have to already file for unemployment; why is it not explained that Military personnel have NUMEROUS immediate and temporary options for help when strapped for cash? Quite w/ the biased platitudes “free press” and tell a complete story. Not this preachy, tear-jerking half-baked garbage.

She Dee

@alexkelley & others who agree with you- The one thing that will be CERTAIN after this shutdown is over is that each & every person who is employed by the federal government will be seen as a BAD RISK by landlords, mortgage companies, lenders, credit card agencies & every other business in general! No doubt the future for these workers will mean a lowered credit score & a lot more stress for them, their family members & the businesses they can no longer afford to shop in. Your remarks about "gluttony" show how little you know about the average government worker. The press has not released any fake news on this subject. You sound like a jealous person who hates all your neighbors because they don't live as you think they should. This is America & we are free to choose. No one is forcing you to read about it. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is a MORAL issue. The workers are being held hostage & undergoing stress & mental abuse. This makes for a very unhappy workplace with employees who make mistakes because they are no longer having a "normal" life.

ISpy

As someone who works with genuinely at-risk populations, this characterization of the federal workers being "held hostage" and subjected to "mental abuse" is ridiculous. Being subject to the actions of an employer is part of regular, adult, life. For instance, my job is ending after this summer (after 20+ years of being in existence) do to mismanagement at the upper levels. I don't know (yet) where I'm going to go next, or how I'm going to end up paying my bills. You know what I am grateful for? That I was informed that it was coming, so that I can plan, accordingly. It can be considered stressful, sure. But I miss the days when folks weren't whining about everything, and calling it 'abuse.'

ReefRanger

Sorry about your job. Sounds like you have a lot of experience.You should not have any trouble finding a new one. I also miss the days when people didn't cry and whine about everything. As well as not suing the White House because their paycheck was late, or short. Notice, they aren't suing the GOVERNMENT, who is their actual employer. No, they are suing Pres. Trump! Who the hello gets to sue their employer when they get laid off or had their hours or wages cut? I sure as hello don't know anyone!

ReefRanger

Blame Congress. It's a bad situation all around, but you notice who is still collecting their fat paychecks while taking vacations to Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and doing absolutely nothing to solve the problem. Alex's point was that these stories all have the same theme...sensationalize everything. People should ALWAYS budget for bad times, and anyone in the financial industry will tell you that you should have a MINIMUM of 6 months wages kept in savings to cover you for events such as this. The government will help those affected with their credit scores, etc. And most lenders know what is going on and will work with their creditors to help them through this trying time.

ReefRanger

All good points, Alex. Particularly when Mr. Squires says he and his wife will have to cancel their planned trip to Thailand this year. While that is unfortunate, it really makes it hard for us common folk to have much sympathy for them. They should have planned better financially. I have never been to Thailand. Heck, I have never been to Hawaii, and likely never will be able to afford it. There are worse things in life. People who have loans and mortgages need only to go to their lenders, explain the situation, and apply for extensions. Congress needs to back these people up since they are just as much at fault for the shutdown. Particularly the ones that are spending this weekend in Puerto Rico with their families instead of working on solving the problem!

She Dee

@BeefRanger- Are you a Socialist? If not, I think you would make a great one because it sounds as if you think we all should be on the same level. If you cannot afford to take a vacation, then no one should? Perhaps if YOU had made better financial plans, you could have taken some vacations? That said...there are NO LENDERS who will allow ANYONE to get out of their contracts without a fee added onto their existing balances & in many cases, it lowers a persons credit score if they cannot honor the original demands of the contract. Anyone who is a US citizen can travel to any other US location without a passport. Puerto Rico is in the US & so is Hawaii. It takes a lot of planning to travel OUTSIDE of the US.

Thailand requires a passport & lots of planning prior to the visit. Reservation cancellations & unused tickets also are a LOSS for the person who must CANCEL. Vacation vs Staycation. It's all costly when a person has no $$$ coming in.

People are suing Trump because it was HE who implemented this shutdown. It did not need to happen. He is holding people HOSTAGE FOR HIS WALL AGENDA. So, suing the government is not an option because it was not their choice. It was a forced shutdown by Donald Trump! Since the man said publically that he was PROUD TO OWN it.....he is the one that gets sued. He asked for it & now he's getting it shoved down his throat. Workers have rights & he has violated them.

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