Some Federal Employees Could Get Paid Twice For Not Working

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 19 2013 4:17 PM

Some Federal Employees Could Get Paid Twice For Not Working

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A closure sign is posted on the national mall near the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. on October 3

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The government shutdown was mighty expensive for the country, but some federal government workers may get a bit of a financial boost, receiving two paychecks for not working this month. How? Some states look set to allow federal workers who collected jobless benefits to keep that money even though they are set to receive back pay, reports USA Today.

Around 400,000 federal employees were furloughed for the 16-day shutdown. Some of them applied, and received, jobless benefits for the period they were furloughed. The Labor Department will likely issue guidelines that detail how states can go about recovering that cash once the workers will get their back pay, as ordered by the legislation that reopened the government last week. Some states (it’s still unclear how many) will allow workers to keep the jobless benefits despite the backpay.

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It may sound outrageous but the truth is however much money they receive will be a pittance compared to the full cost of the shutdown. It remains unclear what the final cost of the shutdown will be considering that the associated damage, such as the decline in consumer confidence, is more difficult to tally. Preliminary estimates put the cost of the shutdown at $3.1 billion, but it could take weeks or months to come out with a final tally, according to the New York Times.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.