NORFOLK,VA (WAVY) - Lynn Carbonell is ready for the regular lunch rush to return to her restaurant, Totoys, in northern Suffolk.
She usually sees a fair amount of foot traffic from Joint Forces Command down the road, but her place is pretty empty, even though the Department of Defense sent most furloughed employees back to work this week.
"It's fortunate that it's just my husband and I and my kids. If I had a big payroll I have to pay, I'd have to let people go as well, because I mean it's really tight," Carbonell told WAVY.com.
What Carbonell is experiencing is the "ripple effect" of what's going on -- or not going on -- in Congress, according to ODU Professor Gary Wagner.
"The uncertainty matters a lot when it comes to the economy," Wagner said.
Wagner crunched the numbers, and here's the bottom line: There are 52,000 federal civilian employees in Hampton Roads -- 36,000 are DoD employees and 16,000 are not. The average employee makes $1,500 a week.
"So if 70 percent of the non DoD end up furloughed, that's an income loss of about $17 million in our region a week," Wanger said. "If 60 percent are furloughed, it's about $12 million a week. So, that's a pretty big number that adds up pretty quickly."
The longer the furlough goes, the tighter people pull their purse strings. It starts with skipping lunches out and progresses to putting off big purchases, like cars and homes. And when those purchases aren't made that effects more people than just the furloughed workers.
Congress is likely to pay workers for those furlough days later, which Wagner points out could simply shift spending from one month to another. But for businesses like Carbonella's restaurant, it doesn't matter. The shutdown eats away at her profits day by day.
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