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The Cost of the Government Shutdown in Colorado

Photo: Colorado Springs is the most federally dependent large city in the U.S. Courtesy: Wikipedia
Photo: Colorado Springs is the most federally dependent large city in the U.S. Courtesy: Wikipedia
October 7, 2013

COLORADO SPRING, Colo. - With 53,000 federal employees calling Colorado home, the state's economy is already feeling the pinch from lost federal wages. Collectively, those employees are paid $965 million every quarter, according to the Colorado Fiscal Institute.

According to Chris Stiffler, an economist for CFI, with consumer spending accounting for 70 percent of the economy, the lost wages will make a difference ...

"People are going to probably pull back, they're not going to go out to lunch in their normal workday at the local restaurant beside the federal center, things like that," he said. "You do have an impact at least for a couple weeks for small businesses owners or restaurants."

Stiffler said Colorado Springs is hardest hit from the shutdown, with an estimated 19 percent of its workers getting federal paychecks. A recent survey by the Washington Post found the city is the most federally-dependent big city in the United States. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday that most Department of Defense civilians will be asked to return to work, beginning today for many.

In addition to the government shutdown's direct impact on the economy, economists like Stiffler and other researchers are having a tough time keeping an eye on trends, since they can't access data from agencies like the Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis.

"It's a compass that drives a lot of decisions, educates the population and you know without it, kind of, we're flying blind," the economist said.

The Census Bureau is part of the Commerce Department, and 87 percent of those employees are currently furloughed. On Friday, the Department of Labor did not issue its jobs report, which investors and business owners count on to make investment and hiring decisions.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - CO