On the EdgeJanuary 31, 2019
The recent federal government shutdown was the lead media story throughout late December and January. Whether the focus was on the underlying policy differences, the partisanship of Congress and the administration, or the negative consequences of the absence of federal workers and the services they provide, it was clear that all Americans were affected by the shutdown. But, it was the stories of federal workers requiring the services of food pantries and not being able to afford the most basic necessities that galvanized support for an end to the shutdown (at least until February 15).
The reality that people who missed a paycheck were immediately thrust into a world we associate with poverty is not a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the disparities that exist in our country, even at times of a “thriving economy.” In the just published Prosperity Now Scorecard, an annual report on household financial health and racial economic inequality, we learn that forty percent of American households lack a basic level of savings. Essentially, if these households experienced an income interruption, they would not have sufficient savings to live at the poverty level for three months. Living paycheck to paycheck is a reality for a large percentage of our country, as we have just witnessed.
There are many lessons to be learned from the government shutdown. Chief among them is the economic vulnerability so present across our communities. Those of us in the human service sector see the evidence of this every day. At the National Human Services Assembly, along with many of you, we are working to address these disparities through a range of federal policies and legislative initiatives. Join us throughout the year as we advocate for policies that will provide every family and individual the opportunity to achieve financial stability.
Lee Sherman, President & CEO