If you’ve got a meeting scheduled with an Internal Revenue Service auditor, assume it’s canceled.
If you’ve lost your Social Security card, your local Social Security Administration office won’t be able to provide you with a replacement.
Many other crucial government operations won’t be affected by the federal government shutdown that was slated to begin at midnight. Social Security and Medicare benefits will continue. The Post Office will deliver the mail.
The Salisbury VA Medical Center in Salisbury will remain business as usual, along with its three community-based outpatient clinics in Charlotte, Hickory and Winston-Salem, said hospital spokesman Bart Major.
“Our message is pretty simple. We will all be open,” Major said.
But the shutdown will trigger major disruptions and minor hassles.
Look for the furloughs of government employees and contractors to ripple throughout the local and national economy.
“Government employees spend money too,” said James Kleckley, an economist at East Carolina University. “They go out to eat, they buy groceries, they get haircuts. So you’re going to hurt spending in the economy.”
The uncertainty caused by the shutdown is also a negative.
“If you’re somebody thinking of starting a business or expanding a business, what are you going to do?” Kleckley said. “You’re not going to do anything until those people (in the nation’s capital) work it out.”
Just how much impact a shutdown will have on the economy depends on how long it lasts.
“If we get by with a one- or two-day shutdown … I think it will have a very small impact,” said Mike Walden, an economist at N.C. State University.
Some economists are projecting that a more extended shutdown could shave the growth of the economy by a few tenths of a percentage point, “which maybe doesn’t sound like much but, if we’re growing at 2.5 percent and you shave two- or three-tenths of a percent off that, you have a real impact,” Walden said.
Walden added that the scenario was similar the last time the government temporarily shut down 17 years ago, but there’s one crucial difference: The current economy “is in a much weaker state.”
A brief shutdown is what North Carolina’s major research universities – Duke, N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill – are hoping for because the federal government is a major source of research funding. N.C. State alone received $236 million in research grants from the federal government in the 2012-2013 school year.
“We’re hearing … it won’t impact our research dollars immediately,” said Terri Lomax, vice chancellor for research, innovation and economic development at N.C. State.
“If it’s a short shutdown, we’ll still be allowed to work on grants,” she said. “In a long shutdown, we would definitely have to shut down research.”
In addition, she noted, no new federal grants will be awarded as long as the shutdown is in effect.
Federal courts in the state’s Charlotte-based Western District will operate for at least 10 days, said clerk Frank Johns.
Federal courts have enough reserve funds to “operate as normal” for those days, Johns said. “If it (the shutdown) continues, we may have to begin discussing another plan.”
Ninety percent of the staff, he said, is considered essential because it supports the judges.
Yet there likely will be no furloughs during that 10-period because “we’re so understaffed,” Johns said.
The criminal division of the district’s U.S. Attorney’s office will operate as normal, he said. “But they may have to consider furloughing employees in the civil division.”
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