With Moab’s relatively high proportion of residents working for federal agencies, Grand County is feeling the impacts of the partial government shutdown more than many counties in Utah. As the longest shutdown in U.S. history continues into its fifth week, businesses and organizations in the area are stepping up to offer special services for federal employees impacted by the impasse.
According to data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, approximately 3.7 percent of the 6,467 people who were employed in Grand County during the second quarter of 2018 worked for the federal government. That number places Grand County eighth out of Utah’s 29 counties for the highest ratio of federal employees. Neighboring San Juan County is one spot higher with approximately 3.8 percent of its workforce employed by the federal government.
The Moab Foodies group announced that the Grand County Food Bank is offering assistance to furloughed federal employees. No paperwork is required to receive food aid. The facility is located at 56 North 200 East and is open from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Samuel Crane, president and CEO of Desert Rivers Credit Union in Moab announced Jan. 14 that the credit union’s board of directors voted to offer relief to all federal government employees affected by the shutdown. The credit union will make a loan of up to $2,500 available at a 0 percent interest rate for a six-month term signature loan. There is also a second option of a 12-month term loan at a 6 percent interest rate. “On both loan terms no payments will be due for the first 60 days,” Crane’s statement reads.
Those affected by the shutdown who are already members of the credit union are also offered loan “skip-a-payments” at no cost, fee waivers for early withdrawal on certificate of deposits up to $20,000 and reversal of overdraft fees for furloughed federal employees backdated to Dec. 3.
“We hope the situation changes soon and we encourage all local businesses to help out as they can,” the statement concludes.
Wells Fargo is also offering assistance to affected federal employees. “The bank will work with individuals and business banking customers whose income is disrupted as a result of the shutdown,” reads Wells Fargo’s website. “Wells Fargo mortgage, loan and credit customers may qualify for forbearance or other payment assistance programs based on their individual circumstances,” it notes. Customers can find out more about the services by calling or visiting their local branch.
Zions Bank is offering similar services. In order to “help federal employees minimize the impact of the partial government shutdown on their finances,” Zions Bank said, “consumer loan and credit clients may qualify for payment deferrals.” The bank’s website notes, “To qualify for a payment deferral, the credit must be in good standing at the time of furlough. The customer must provide a paystub showing evidence of being a federal government employee.” A manager at the local branch of Zions Bank said no one in Moab had taken advantage of those services yet.
As of Jan. 11, Back of Beyond Books was offering a free book worth up to $20 to any federal employee affected by the government closure. The store asks that employees bring an ID to collect the offer.