Amid a government shutdown that’s reportedly halted pay for 800,000 federal workers, hundreds of folks are turning to GoFundMe to beg for cash to cover their living expenses, and then some.
GoFundMe spokeswoman Katherine Cichy told CBS more than 700 accounts have popped up since the shutdown started on Dec. 22, raising a collective total of about $50,000 as of Wednesday.
The pleas for financial help come from federal employees, contractors, small business owners, and others that rely on the government for their livelihood, including campaigns from single mothers, TSA workers, and IRS employees and others looking for a handout.
Some of the campaigns aim to raise the bare minimum necessary to cover bills or medical expenses, while others are asking for $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 or even $50,000. A few want to raise hundreds of thousands or millions to help those temporarily unemployed.
“Being a contracted government worker, I’m losing pay every day that this government shutdown continues,” Kansas City’s Julie Burr wrote in her “shutdown story.” “I’ve taken on extra shifts at my 2nd job but it isn’t going to pay rent and all my bills. Being a single mom, I’m in panic mode right now. If you’d like to help, any donations are appreciated.”
Burr’s campaign has raised more than $10,000, well over double the initial goal of $5,000.
“I am currently a federal employee struggling with the anxiety and stress of the recent government shutdown. I had some savings, but it was recently depleted because I had to replace the bald tires on my car this last month,” Ogden, Utah’s Tyler Fralia wrote in a plea for $4,000. “I am still covering expenses from the birth of my son. Please help me to cover expenses for food and diapers for my 5 month baby until I can return back to work. Your help is much appreciated. God bless.”
Joanna Petrocelli, who works for NASA in Houston, told CBS she launched a campaign for her coworkers because they can’t afford to pay their mortgage and basic necessities like food and diapers without their government paychecks.
Petrocelli, a 26-year-old with savings and supportive parents, said she expects to weather the shutdown but felt compelled to set up a GoFundMe page for “Feds Who Want to Help.”
“These aren’t people who are irresponsible or haven’t saved for emergencies or spend beyond their means,” Petrocelli wrote on the GoFundMe page. “They’re highly educated people who work for NASA. People with PHds in astrophysics from MIT, flight controllers who keep the International Space Station and astronauts safe day after day. They’re also janitors, administrative assistants, facility maintenance, and security guards who work long hours for very little pay.”
According to Indeed.com, “The Average U.S. Government salary ranges from approximately $41,728 per year for Call Center Representative to $156,307 per year for Internal Medicine Physician. Average U.S. Government hourly pay ranges from approximately $13.44 per hour for Office Clerk to $40.10 per hour for Educator.”
Those figures come from “14,170 data points collected directly from employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.”
The Huffington Post reported in 2015:
In 2014, the average federal employee salary was $84,153, approximately 50% more than the average private sector worker earned. This discrepancy increases to 78% when benefits are included. The average federal worker costs the government (aka taxpayers) $119,934.
Federal employees and contractors who go unpaid during government shutdowns typically receive retroactive pay once the government reopens.