Here are 5 industries feeling the squeeze from the government shutdown

Key Points
  • An estimated 450,000 federal employees are working without pay through the partial government shutdown, but even those who don't get a federal paycheck have been affected.
  • As funding for some operations run out, more agencies are closing as a result of the standoff between Democrats and President Donald Trump over funding for a proposed border wall.
Tourists drive past the closed entrance ticket station of the Joshua Tree National Park after the federal government's partial shutdown caused park rangers to stay home and campgrounds to be shut, at the park in California, on January 3, 2019.
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay through the partial government shutdown, but even people who don't get a federal paycheck are feeling the squeeze.

Industries, consumers and business owners around the country are feeling the impact from losing government services — all as a result of the standoff between Democrats and President Donald Trump over funding for a southern border wall.

A report from Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which was released ahead of the partial shutdown, said 9 out of 15 federal departments and "dozens" of U.S. agencies would close. As funding runs out, more agencies are closing. The shutdown is in its 14th day.

Here are five industries that are being affected by the stalemate in Washington.


With some functions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended, the fast-moving agriculture industry has gone without some data and services it relies on.

The USDA announced Friday that it would not release several key reports including the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

"Due to the government shutdown, farmers and ranchers have limited market information that can be used for these price discovery and risk management operations of their business," Mace Thornton, spokesman for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said via email. "Farmers and ranchers rely on government reports from USDA as they manage their businesses on a day-to-day basis."

Thornton said the closure of local Farm Service Agency offices has posed problems for farmers because they can't apply for new loans or receive payments for relief from U.S.-China trade tensions.


On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission suspended "most operations" due to a lapse in funding, according to a public notice. While many systems remained online, consumer complaint services are unavailable until the shutdown ends.

In the notice, the FCC said it would suspend its "180-day time clock" for reviewing transactions including mergers, which includes the on-again, off-again Sprint-T-mobile deal currently under review.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his trip to the Consumer Electronics Show, which starts Tuesday, because of the shutdown, a representative for the event said.

Small businesses

The Small Business Administration, an agency that gives entrepreneurs loans, stopped issuing new loan approvals on Dec. 21.

Tony Wilkinson, CEO of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, said the halt on loans slows economic growth and prevents small-business owners from expanding.

"The longer (the shutdown) goes, the harder it is for some of them," he said. "It ends up costing jobs."

The small benefit of the shutdown, he said, is its timing — the holiday period is usually the slowest time of year for NAGGL.

"I expect on Monday, we'll start having our phones ring a lot as applicants are not able to get their loans approved," he said.

Tourism at parks and museums

Some national parks have closed to visitors, while others have stayed open with minimal staffing and help from volunteers to contain overflowing trash bins and toilets.

Joshua Tree National Park in California closed Wednesday due to health and safety corners as toilets reached capacity, according to a National Park Service news release.

America’s national parks latest to shutter facilities during government shutdown
America’s national parks latest to shutter facilities during government shutdown

"I want to extend a sincere thanks to local businesses, volunteer groups, and tribal members who have done their best to assist in picking up litter and helping maintain campgrounds," Joshua Tree's superintendent, David Smith, said in the release.

The Smithsonian Institution said it kept its 19 museums and the National Zoo temporarily open during the partial shutdown by using "prior-year funds." On Wednesday, however, the Smithsonian announced it would close.

@smithsonian In the event of a #GovernmentShutdown, our museums, research centers and the National Zoo will be OPEN through Jan. 1.

In Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell Center and other historical sites have been closed since Dec. 22.


The suspension of many Department of Housing and Urban Development enforcement activities is hurting poor families, according to a report from NBC News.

Mandatory health and safety inspections for housing for low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities has been suspended, according to the department's contingency plan. Officials told NBC News they don't know how long rental assistance payments will continue.

About 95 percent of the department's 7,500 employees were furloughed without pay. Some employees are exempt to provide emergency services and housing for the homeless and people with AIDS and pay out grant and disaster recovery funds, according to the contingency plan.