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Pregnant federal contractor: My bills are piling up and there won't be back pay to help me

Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor

It’s day 33 of the government shutdown, and people who work for and with the federal government are bearing the brunt of it.

The government shutdown hits contractors extra hard since those people will not receive back pay after any resolution.

Taylor Gautreaux is a Louisiana-based government contractor whose company works with the Department of Transportation. Like her co-workers, she has been put under a work stoppage. This means she’s not allowed to charge her contract, and in turn, does not receive a paycheck. Gautreaux also happens to be seven months pregnant.

“It’s put a pretty big financial burden on me and my husband, especially with expecting our baby in March,” she told Yahoo Finance. “We have a lot of bills that we’re not sure we’re going to be able to make, credit card debt, and a lot of financial struggles there.”

Government shutdown hits contractors like Gautreaux with extra hardhsip. She started a GoFundMe to help her family cover costs during the shutdown. (Photo: screenshot/GoFundMe)

On Jan. 18, Gautreaux missed a paycheck. However, through a crowdfunding campaign she created on GoFundMe, she anticipates that the money will hold over her and her family for the next two pay periods.

Government shutdown hits contractors extra hard with no back pay

The overall federal contract workforce is estimated to be at about 4 million, which is about double the number of federal civilian employment. And unlike federal employees, contractors don’t receive back pay since the companies they work for aren’t getting paid during a shutdown. 

“My supervisor told me we won’t be getting paid,” Bonita Williams, a contracted janitor for the State Department, told the Washington Post, “so my bills won’t be getting paid.”

About 10,000 companies hold contracts with federal agencies affected by the government shutdown, according to a Washington Post analysis, and “overall estimates of total federal contract workers range from hundreds of thousands to millions.”

The government shutdown hits contractors extra hard as the shutdown drags on.

Last year, the government paid out an estimated $465 billion contracts.

“It baffles me and most of my coworkers because everyone’s OK with the shutdown because they expect the federal government to get money back after it ends,” Gautreaux said. “But that’s not true for all of us.

“It’s going to be even harder for us to recoup once this is over because most of the creditors offer deals for people who are expecting back pay, allowing them to pay once they get their check again,” she said. “We won’t be able to do that.”

Furloughed government workers, contractors, and their families attended a free community dinner donated from families and community organizations during the partial U.S. government shutdown in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo: REUTERS/Arlene Eiras)

Gautreaux is trying to figure out how to pay her bills if the shutdown continues. Although she isn’t the primary source of income in her family, she stated that she and her husband are living paycheck to paycheck.

“I’ve called all of the creditors,” she said. “Most of them say that their hands are tied, and that they can’t really do much except defer our payments for about a month. But then, once the month is over and the government opens back up, we’re hit with all of those accrued interest and charges that we didn’t make.”

And although Gautreaux has health insurance, since she’s not getting a check, she’s not paying for the insurance that’s being deducted. “That’s another thing that’s going to hit me all at once, once I do get that next paycheck,” she said.

Furthermore, the bills will be especially high when she gives birth.

Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.


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