Washington area dealers await impact of federal shutdown; one offers special deals to federal workers

Washington area dealers await impact of federal shutdown; one offers special deals to federal workers

Consumers can become anxious about buying big ticket items, like cars, in an uncertain economic climate, like now, with the current federal government shutdown underway. Close to 800,000 federal workers, many of them here in the Washington area, were furloughed. Then a week later, the Department of Defense called back nearly all of its 350,000 employees. Those numbers dont include all the employees of federal contractors in the Washington area.

George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller originally estimated the shutdown would cost the region about $200 million a day. But since the DOD action and the House vote to pay federal

workers retroactively, the economic effect on the region doesnt look so dire.

(The effect on the federal budget is another matter, as federal agencies have had to spend a great deal of money preparing for the shutdown and now will likely be spending much more to pay workers for the time they didnt work.)

The more looming problem, of course, is the threat of a government default if lawmakers dont act to raise the debt limit next week. Most economists call that possibility disastrous.

Sequestration already cost the Washington area 26,500 jobs in August, Fuller told WTOP radio. He said the regions economy will recover quickly once federal workers are back on the job. Right now, prospects for a quick end to the standoff are touch and go.

One area dealership, Koons of Silver Spring, is offering furloughed government employees free service and special finance deals for buying a new vehicle. In the midst of gridlock down the street on Capitol Hill, we wanted to give back to all those hard-working government employees who have been negatively affected, Koons website says. Additionally, all government workers can get a free oil change, tire rotation and multi-point inspection. The dealership also offers employee pricing to any civil servant who wants to buy a new vehicle – and the first three months payments are on Koons.

At the OEM level, Hyundai has offered to defer all loan and lease payments for furloughed government workers nationwide.

Among federal agencies, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unaffected by the shutdown. By contrast, NHTSA has half of its employees furloughed, the result being that the agency wont conduct safety investigations or send out recall notices. And with the Census Bureau and Commerce Department closed, no one will be able to get the federal governments assessment on the economic impact of the shutdown – not even the unemployment figures that normally come out at the beginning of the month.

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