Pay raise/shutdown — a nasty combination

Imagine if you were four months late with your rent or mortgage payment. How would that work out for you? Then you get a pay raise in January, but, because of the fog of shutdown, you still haven’t seen it.

How do you gracefully tell VISA or Mastercard you’re a little short this quarter but to carry on without you? The check, someday, will be in the mail.

What if the largest employer in your community forced many employees to work without pay for 35 days (including over Christmas) and was just now getting around to paying them? And it didn’t allow many others to work, knocking an estimated $3.1 billion hole in the economy. Heads would roll, right?

What if Congress, or the Labor Department, even the White House got wind of the fact that some of the 800,000 employees of Standard Oil, or Walmart or Amazon had to wait weeks for back pay and are just now seeing the January pay raise, all because of the record-long 35-day government shutdown? Adding insult to injury, 6-figure folks at the White House and in Congress, who either caused or allowed it to happen, still got paid on time — as they always do.

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The many communities that are largely or almost wholly dependent on government paychecks got a kick in the wallet. It’s one that many individuals won’t recover from for several more months. The Washington, D.C. area has only about 14% of the federal workforce and the rest are beyond the Beltway, where the military, the U.S. Postal Service, the IRS, or Interior Department are primary employers or job-generators. They got shut down, too.

Last week Federal News Network finally could report that bigger paychecks are on the way for many feds as Uncle Sam catches up on shutdown wages. On Thursday the Office of Personnel Management said that the majority of folks hit by the shutdown — those either forced to work or locked out of their offices — would be getting bigger paychecks this week. They will be bigger because they include retroactive pay they’ve earned from the beginning of first pay period of 2019 to the one ending April 13. Or not.

In addition to playing havoc with some of your deductions the late-even-by-retroactive situation will be more complicated for many others. Like if you took a new job, got a pay raise or were involved in any of several other job issues that could complicate your personal payroll. The National Treasury Employees Union estimated two out of every 10 white collar civil servants has had some kind of change in pay status this year.

And this isn’t a bureaucratic blunder. This is the end result — when it finally ends, that is — of a political game of chicken that did nobody any good. If anyone other than Congress or the White House had caused such a mess there would be hell to pay. Investigations, hearings, the whole works. As it is payroll and HR offices are picking up the pieces of the mess caused by the politicians.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Several theories exist about the question mark’s origins but the most widely accepted version is that Alcuin of York, an English scholar and poet born in 735 and a member of Charlemagne’s court, created it. Originally named the “punctus interrogativus” or “point of interrogation,” this mark was a dot with a symbol resembling a tilde or lightning bolt above it, to represent the rise in pitch when a person asks a question. But it wasn’t until the mid-19th Century that it was first referred to as a “question mark.”

Source: Oxford English Dictionary

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