By Isabel Togoh
Some 800,000 public sector workers in the US missed their first payday of the year on Friday as the government shutdown continues.
Employees posted pictures of their blank payslips on Twitter and vented their frustration as the stand-off entered its 21st day and is set to become the longest shutdown in US history over the weekend.
Government workers are scaling back spending, cancelling trips, applying for unemployment benefits and taking out loans to stay afloat, while some are trying to land second jobs.
Some Democrats seized on the empty payslips as a way to renew criticism of President Donald Trump, who triggered the shutdown over his demands for funding for a border wall.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia tweeted: “It should be payday for hundreds of thousands of federal workers. But thanks to Trump, many are actually getting pay stubs like this. He’s treating them like the countless contractors he stiffed throughout his business career.”
Roughly 420,000 federal employees were deemed essential and are working unpaid. An additional 380,000 are staying at home without pay.
Government contractors, who have been placed indefinitely on unpaid leave, do not get compensated for lost hours.
The typical federal employee makes $37 (£29) an hour, which translates into $1,480 (£1,153) a week, according to the US Labour Department’s data.
Many workers live payslip to payslip, despite the strong economy and the ultra-low unemployment rate, and would struggle if their wages or salaries were interrupted. A Federal Reserve survey in May found that 40% of Americans would have to borrow or sell something to make a 400 dollar (£311) emergency payment.