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Angelo Haskins

This is what it's like to be a federal employee weeks into the government shutdown

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Updated January 11, 2019 03:19 PM EST

WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation reports that as of Jan. 10, the number of furloughed employees who have submitted unemployment insurance claims has risen to 2,550.

PARKVILLE, Md. (CIRCA) — For the past six years, Angelo Haskins has worked as a legal technician for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency aimed at curtailing discrimination in the workplace. On Dec. 26, 2018, just a day after Christmas, he filed for unemployment in Maryland.

"[When] you should be thinking about holiday and family, I was already on edge," said Haskins.

Much like the 800,000 other federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown, Haskins won’t receive a paycheck from his job for the foreseeable future.

And with no other streams of income, Haskins is still waiting for his unemployment insurance claim to be approved by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

"If we don’t get the second paycheck in January, I’m not going to make rent—period," said Haskins. "And even if [the unemployment benefits] do come through, I’m still not going to make rent because the benefit is not enough to cover my rent."

Haskins is the breadwinner in his family. He said his annual salary of $44,000 is enough to support all the necessities for himself, his stay-at-home wife and their 8-month-old baby girl, Felicity. But as the furlough drags on, Haskins says he’s worried about how he’s going to continue to provide for his family.

"We have three weeks of formula left," said Haskins. "I’m just hoping something comes through, because my baby girl has to eat, and so does my wife. So do I."

Infant formula
Angelo Haskins says hes worried about being able to afford the necessities for himself, his wife and his 8-month-old baby girl. (Circa/Ryan Eskalis)

This shutdown has affected nine federal departments and is currently the third-longest shutdown in history. Nearly 380,000 federal workers have been furloughed, and about 420,000 are working without pay because they’ve been deemed “essential.” According to the Maryland DLLR, essential workers can't apply for unemployment because they are "not available to work."

On Dec. 28, 2018, the Maryland DLLR reported that 383 federal workers had applied for unemployment insurance. One week later, that number had jumped to 972 unemployment insurance claims.

The weeks-long shutdown comes after congressional leaders and the White House failed to compromise over funding for a border wall budget.

Federal workers in the same bind as Haskins have taken to social media to share their stories about how the shutdown continues to impede their financial well-being.

In light of their complaints, President Donald Trump asserted that a majority of these workers completely support his negotiation tactics to get funding for the border wall.

"I can relate, and I’m sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments—they always do ... Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing."
President Donald Trump

If the shutdown exceeds 21 days, it will become the longest shutdown in American history, surpassing the 1995 shutdown under former President Bill Clinton.

However, Haskins says he hopes it doesn’t get to that point. He’s already had to dip into savings and has considered asking his grandmother for support. He also said he’s eager to get back to work and help people navigate the complexities of workplace discrimination, something he is passionate about.

Angelo Haskins
Angelo Haskins received a letter from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations, notifying him that his unemployment claim has still not been fulfilled. (Circa/Ryan Eskalis)

"I just would love to get back to work. I'm having dreams about getting back to work," said Haskins. "Who thought that would happen? Like, literally I'm having dreams about sitting at my desk. It's crazy."

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