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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shutdown’s Quiet Toll, From Idled Research to Closed Wallets

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has stopped monitoring mercury contamination in the Everglades and testing water after the recent floods in Colorado.
Gerry Broome/Associated Press
Furloughed employees of the Environmental Protection Agency headed into a wooded area to do volunteer trail maintenance in Hillsborough, N.C., on Thursday.

  • DAn $8 billion space telescope, the largest in the world, waits to be tested at minus-400 degrees Fahrenheit in a closed government facility in suburban Maryland, facing the possibility of costly delays.
Many of the half a million federal workers whose paychecks on Friday showed half of what they normally earn fretted about how to juggle bills and put off major purchases.
As the partial government shutdown reached its 11th day on Friday, it was affecting far more than the nation’s monuments and parks, with much of the little-noticed machinery of government shifted to idle. Jobs deemed essential continued to be performed, but other tasks that have paused may take a lasting toll, even if President Obama and Congressional Republicans reach an agreement to end the shutdown soon.
The temporary disruption of furloughed workers’ spending patterns, a skittishness likely to continue even after they go back to work, is capable of measurable damage to the nation’s growth rate, economists said. Federal workers are “spooked” and are likely to save more and spend less, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “They’re going to be cautious at least into the next year,” he said.

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