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Monday, October 7, 2013 - 6:35pm
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — The Borderland's economy is mostly driven by the 43,000 federal employees who pump money into services, especially in North East El Paso.
Small business owners around Fort Bliss explained they've seen the effects of the government shutdown and they're worried if the shutdown continues even longer, that they'll have to shut their doors for good.
Federal workers can't rely on their paychecks and small business owners and employees can't rely on what used to be a steady stream of income because of the shutdown.
As Liz Pivarnick cuts one of her clients hair she's also wondering just how much more of her profit margin she'll have to slice into. "It has slowed down. We've noticed probably a 50-percent decrease in business since last week," Liz Pivarnick, the Owner of Hair Play Salon & Spa in North East El Paso told us. Since the government shutdown, Pivarnick has had to offer services at steep discounts just to keep her doors open. "I'm just like wondering if I'm even going to afford to keep the business open."
She's also had to cut her staff's hours, forcing employees like Magdalena Hernandez to cut her family's spending. "I don't have any clients in so I don't get tips so I can't pay her daycare," Magdalena Hernandez, a Massage Therapist with Hair Play told us. Hernandez said she used to be booked with massage clients. The only calls she's been receiving lately - "We're getting calls to cancel them so it's, it's really bad."
She not only depends on government clients, she depends on her husband's government paycheck which has been unreliable. "That's another income that we don't have coming in."
Gilbert Garcia is a government worker who has been furloughed until Monday. "It's been a little scary. Especially to adjust, I just bought a house so all of a sudden all of this stuff started happening," Gilbert Garcia told us. His household depends on two government paychecks. "In the case of my wife, well she still had to go to work cause she works for the medical but she wasn't going to get paid."
They're also watching their spending. "We completely disabled all smart phones and we went to a basic little flip phone type of thing."
Financial uncertainty looms over both the Garcia and Hernandez households so much so, both families are looking at other income sources.
"We might have to start looking for another part time job to survive," Hernandez said.
"I actually had started looking for a part time job," Garcia told us.
But there are exceptions. "Since the government shutdown, my business has really picked up, actually." Jermaine Knowles, the Owner of J's Kebab, said. He also stated that he's seen more Fort Bliss faces, "The grocery stores and a lot of the stores on post are shutdown so a lot of more people are getting extra time on their hands to actually come out and eat."
El Paso has 43,000 federal employees, that ranks number 4 in the top ten cities that have the highest amount of federal workers and the Sun City has been ranked number 6 in the top ten metropolitan areas that could suffer the most from a federal government shutdown.