Partial US government shutdown taking a toll on TSA and US airport travel

Digital Originals

Transportation Security Administration officers work at a checkpoint at O’Hare airport in Chicago, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. The TSA acknowledged an increase in the number of its employees calling off work during the partial government shutdown. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Working without pay–for weeks in fact–is exactly what around 51,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers.

They are not getting paid due to the partial shutdown of the U.S. government, but are deemed “essential employees,” so they must report to work.

TSA is also experiencing more absences due to the shutdown—an increase of four percent from this same time last year—that is affecting security line length and efficiency in U.S. airports. On January 15 of 2019– weeks into the partial U.S. government shutdown–TSA had a 6.8 percent national rate of unscheduled absences, compared to 2.5 percent on the same day the year before.

There is fear that the longer the shutdown continues, the more strain TSA will be under, which could impact security.

The TSA council president said that “the loss of officers, while we’re already shorthanded, will create a massive security risk for American travelers since we don’t have enough trainees in the pipeline or the ability to process new hires.”

The continued shutdown is already taking a toll. The TSA on January 16, 2019 said that “many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations.”

Federal workers have already missed a paycheck because of the shutdown, and are likely to miss others, as negotiations are in a deadlock.