LOS ANGELES — California has more federal workers than any other state, but so far, economists say, the Golden State has only suffered a relatively minor economic impact from the partial government shutdown.
But experts suggest that could change if the impasse drags into February – at a time when the state's agriculture sector is already reeling from President Donald Trump's trade war with China.
Nearly 245,000 federal workers are located in California, according to November estimates provided last week by the state's Employment Development Department. That's more than other other single state, including Texas (200,000) and Virginia (178,000), according figures published by Governing magazine.
About 800,000 total federal workers are either furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown, which started days before Christmas after Trump refused to sign any spending bills that don't include more than $5 billion in funding for his proposed southern border wall. Democrats have likewise rejected any proposal to fund the wall. Critics argue that such a barrier would be inefficient and ineffective in solving problems with illegal border crossings, which have declined in recent years.
To be clear, not all workers in California are furloughed, but many are working without pay and struggling to pay rent, mortgages and other bills.
"My personal finances are being impacted by stuff that's completely out of my control, and I don't think it's okay for any of them [in Washington] to be doing this to me or my fellow coworkers," said Destinee Cooper, a furloughed project officer with the Environmental Protection Agency in the San Francisco Bay Area. "It makes me feel like I'm one of those chess pieces that they're just moving around the chess board."
Cooper said she is not taking sides on the shutdown and described herself as "not political." That said, she called the situation "extraordinarily stressful."
The Trump administration's Office of Management and Budget reportedly is preparing for the shutdown to continue into February, the Wall Street Journal reported last Friday. There also were reports last week the president could pull billions of dollars in flood prevention funds from California, as well as reconstruction money from hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico, to help pay for the border wall.