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Aberdeen Proving Ground contract worker fears unemployment with shutdown

While nearly all federal workers will be impacted by the government shutdown caused by a budget gridlock in Congress, contract workers may suffer the harshest blow.

One Aberdeen Proving Ground federal contract employee said she has been left feeling frustrated and confused as she awaits Congress' next move, following Tuesday's shutdown of some federal agencies in the wake of a budget battle between President Obama and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

A data collector at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, Nikki Macomber, 40, said the potential government shutdown will cause another blow to her financial stability. Earlier this year, Macomber said she suffered a furlough lasting more than a week.

"I have a lot of things I have to worry about because of the furlough earlier this year," Macomber, an Aberdeen resident, said. "We haven't heard much out here. We do have some guidance, but with so many unknowns... we just don't know."

Most federal personnel who are affected by the government shutdown will be eligible for retroactive pay. Macomber, on the other hand, would not. As a federal contractor her only options would be to supplement paid personal leave for the days the federal government is shut down.

She said Monday that most of the people at APG have been "on edge" waiting for updates on their employment status.

Macomber said the six-day federal furlough she experienced earlier in the year put her in a "panic," but this time she is a little bit more prepared. She said she started putting extra money in her savings account in the days leading up to Monday's deadline for Congress to approve a new budget for the federal fiscal year that began Tuesday.

"If the government shutdown goes on for a few days, I'll be looking for a part-time or temp job," Macomber said. "I've already started looking through the help wanted ads."

"I'm more nervous this time because the last couple of times this happened it seemed like they were coming more to a resolution," Macomber said. "This time it seems more gridlocked and they are just pointing fingers and calling names and not worried about the people who will be impacted by the government shutdown."

A mother of four, with three kids still at home, Macomber said she's also concerned about the upcoming holiday season.

"Normally I start my holiday shopping in September and get a few things here and there," Macomber said. "It's definitely going to be a lot leaner this year for the kids and they are aware of that."

ar for the kids and they are aware of that."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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