Report: Pensacola Area Hit by Shutdown

Jan 17, 2019

Credit CBS News

Along with their fellow Americans, Floridians and Pensacola-area residents are feeling the effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government. The Haas Business Center at UWF is studying those effects.

At this point, Haas has modeled up to 25 days of the shutdown, showing more than 7,100 jobs in Florida now idled.

“More than 1,500, have been lost from the professional, scientific and technical services industry,” says The Haas Center’s Amy Newburn. “That’s when you’re really thinking about the people that are working closely with government – contractors, architecture, what have you.”

Newburn — who’s overseeing the study — adds that jobs are also bleeding from administrative, waste management and remediation services, which in turn is trickling down to other areas of the economy.

“You see impacts in health care, construction, and retail trade because maybe they’re not going to be getting a federal loan that they were anticipating,” says Newburn.

In Florida, about $378 million in personal income has been lost since the shutdown began, according to the study. Newburn says $325 million of that is disposable personal income.

Amy Newburn, Haas Business Center.
Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

“If you’re a federal civilian employee and you’re not receiving a paycheck right now, then you’re making a lot of decisions differently than maybe you would normally,” Newburn says. “So that means they’re not going to restaurants; they’re not going to the movies, they’re not going to purchase a new outfit for an event they had. You continue to see that and that’s how it ripples out to all of these other auxiliary industries.”

If there’s any saving grace for Florida, it’s the timing of the shutdown. Newburn says January and February are the non-peak travel time for tourism.

“And it really depends on how long [the shutdown] goes,” says Newburn. “Once spring break comes, if we get to March and the shutdown is still there, there’s always the possibility it can impact tourism numbers. So, we’ll just have to see how this continues to go.”

Closer to home, the shutdown is providing a challenge for non-governmental social services, such as Manna Food Pantries – which serves Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.

“So far we’ve seen about a dozen people who have been impacted by the shutdown, says Manna Director DeDe Flounlacker. “That’s been federal workers as well as we had a Coast Guard family in here the other day.”

Credit Manna Food Pantries

Flounlacker concedes that’s not a large number coming in, but she believes that the longer the shutdown goes on, the more likely it is that they’re going to be seeing new clients.

“January is our busiest time of the year for client service,” Flounlacker says. “In a month when we’re giving out a whole lot of food on a — quote/unquote —normal basis, this will just add on to more people needing assistance. Which means we’re going to need more food as well.”

While praising those donating to Manna during the holiday season, Flounlacker would like to see that momentum continue into the New Year.

“And now, as I like to say, in January you can practically hear the crickets out in the warehouse; meaning there’s nothing really going on in terms of donations,” says Flounlacker. “No one’s really thinking much about donating food in January. While it’s the highest month for client service, it’s actually the lowest month for food donations.”

Flounlacker is quick with a reminder that hunger strikes 24/7, 12 months per year. If the shutdown drags on, with Pensacola being home for thousands of federal employees, she expects their numbers to increase.

“What we’ll probably have to do is add more appointments to our schedule, which means we need more volunteers who can come in and interview the clients, as well as we need more people helping out in the warehouse,” Flounlacker says. “We’re trying to work right now with a couple of different organizations to get the word out that, if someone does need our help, just give us a call here at Manna.”

For those finding themselves impacted by the shutdown and now in a position where they’re in need of Manna’s services for the first time, Director DeDe Flounlacker has a message for them.

“First of all, know that it is with dignity and respect that we offer our service to anyone; please don’t be embarrassed, don’t worry about ‘I’m taking it away from someone else,’” says Flounlacker. “Please reach out to us or call 211 – the United Way agency in Escambia County that can get you connected with resources.”

More information is available by calling Manna Food Pantries at (850) 432-2053. Those needing help with groceries can set up an appointment at the main office at 3030 North E Street in Pensacola.