What Furloughed Workers Did With Their Unpaid Vacation

Many federal employees went back to work this morning after two weeks of unexpected -- and unpaid -- vacation. What did they do with the time off?

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(Photo Credit: Tax Credits/Flickr)

As The New York Times reports, the furloughed workers did pretty much what anyone would do, given time off and no money to spend: domestic chores and cheap fun.

"Saturday was the first time I stuck to my grocery list," IRS worker Beverly Bratton told The Times. Prior to that, she'd economized out of fear of a long stretch without pay. However, she said, she did get to visit her sister for her birthday.

Others told The Times that they worked on their gardens, changed out their wardrobes, and got a little reading in. One reported doing a little pro bono legal work.

But it's safe to say that the main thing federal employees did over their "break" was worry.

"We have no income coming into the house right now, but the bills haven't stopped," said John Ferris last week, in an interview with The Washington Post. Ferris and his wife both work for the Environmental Protection Agency. Their "two-furlough marriage" meant cutting their household budget to the bone, which meant skipping restaurants and movies, among other, more essential expenditures.

The good news is that families like the Ferrises won't have to hold out much longer. The White House reports that recently returned workers can expect to see retroactive pay in their next checks. They can also expect a 1 percent raise on January 1, as part of the deal that ended the shutdown.

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