Black Employees Are Disproportionately Hurt By The Shutdown

Written by Ann Brown

As the partial government shutdown over Donald Trump’s border wall continues, it has been affecting the entire nation. But those most affected are federal workers who are Black. More than 800,000 federal employees are affected and 350,000 are taking unpaid furloughs, the Philadelphia Tribune reported. Nearly 20 percent of these employees are Black (while constituting 12 percent of the U.S. population).

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“The federal government shutting down has a lot more relevance and impact on Black people than the stock market falling,” economic strategist and ScaleUp Partners co-founder Mike Green told the Tribune. “In fact, we don’t need to worry about the stock market. We need to worry about how long this shutdown will last.”

An estimated $27.4 billion of the federal budget for federal employees goes to Black civilian federal employees, according to data from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Black federal workers earn, on average, $72,000 in salary versus $85,000 for whites (64 percent of the federal workforce), $93,000 for Asians (who are just under 6 percent of the federal workforce) and $75,000 for Hispanics (representing under 6 percent of the federal workforce), reported in 2016. FedSmith is a news service for federal employees,” Tk reported.

And with so many Black federal workers affected, this affects Black communities, especially communities near federal government and military base activity such as Prince George’s County, Maryland.

“It’s also home to the highest concentration of middle-class African Americans in the country, much of that largely due to public sector employment. Nearly 10 percent of the county’s population is employed by the federal government — not including a large portion of the 65-and-over population that lives off federal and military retirement. The 13 percent of employment attributed to professional and business service companies is largely comprised of small businesses with federal agency contracts and sub-contracts,” the Root reported.

Snow falls on the White House as a winter storm arrives in the region, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

And in Texas, the percentage of federal workers who are Black is 18 percent.

“We’re living hand to mouth because we’re not generating the type of income that sustains us for months at a time,” Green said.

“The competitive pay scales of government employment have lifted generations of Black people into the middle class.”

This is especially the case in Black communities clustered around the nation’s capital or in is prevalent.

“At this point,” Green said, “we have a person running the government whose values are different than ours. Because he controls so much of the economy, because he’s so volatile, we don’t have any type of security.”

The shutdown isn’t only affecting federal workers, it is also hurting Black-owned businesses. According to the business analytics firm Equant, “Black-owned firms comprise 2.1% of all small businesses in the country that have one or more employees. However, such firms make up 11.7% of registered federal contractors,” the Root reported.

About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence,, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.