JSC workers head back to work after partial government shutdown ends

HOUSTON

Folks returning to work tell us they are relieved the shutdown is over. They say this has opened their eyes to their own financial vulnerabilities.

After 16 days off, NASA TV is back on the air. The feed returning as employees returned to work.

"They're relieved to be back at work. They're exciting about getting a paycheck and not having to dip into their savings too much," said Bridget Broussard-Guidry with the American Federation of Government Employees.

Three-thousand civil servants at the Johnson Space Center were furloughed. They missed one check but have been told they will get back pay.

"This whole issue is silly costly -- $24 billion. I really want to know where to send the invoice to get paid back for this stuff," NASA employee Dennis Lawler said.

Thousands of contractors may not get paid for the time furloughed. That's causing many to raid their savings.

At Nokturne, a speciality food and juice bar near the Johnson Space Center, business the last 16 days has been a bust.

"I'm talking maybe 25-35 percent in sales. It's quite a lot," said Daniel Quezada with Nokturne.

Restaurant owners nearby were thrilled Thursday to once again see a lunch crowd. But those who work for the betterment of the local economy worry what's next.

"I really feel like most of us are concerned that we're gonna be going through this again in January," said Bob Mitchell with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

Behind the scenes, there are whispers. How many hits like this can the economy handle? How long would it be before talented workers seek a more stable form of employment?

The president Wednesday night was emphatic when a reporter asked if the shutdown is something to worry about again soon.

Time will tell. You can bet though that many will scale back their purchases for the holidays because of the unknown.

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