US shutdown: 'We are hanging in there'

By Amber Dawson
BBC News

image captionFederal employees protest at the continued shutdown during a prayer vigil in Chicago

As President Obama and Republicans meet to discuss staving off a US debt crisis, the government shutdown continues.

Staff deemed "essential" to government operations continue to work unpaid, whilst those who are "non-essential" remain at home on unpaid leave.

The majority of federal departments and offices around the country remain closed, including those paying benefits to families on low incomes.

Some of the individuals whose lives and livelihoods are being affected have been describing their experience to BBC News.

Here are their stories as the shutdown goes into its second week.

'Karen', Memphis, Tennessee

Luckily my husband will eventually be paid for his work - but we still don't know when.

I am working a temp assignment to try and keep us afloat in the meantime but it's still very tight.

My doctor is unhappy that I'm working as I had heart surgery six months ago and am now about three months pregnant and my blood pressure has risen.

Some of that is the stress of the situation though and the truth is we just don't have a choice.

Even though my husband will get paid his normal salary eventually, he will not get paid for the extra hours he's working to make up for the lack of "non-essential" staff.

He is now working 10-12 hours a day.

He was looking forward to Columbus Day - a rare opportunity for him to have a day off which he has more than earned.

However if the government shutdown continues he will not be able to take this government holiday.

If he did he would become furloughed and not receive pay for his work.

We're getting through, but it's like walking on egg shells.

Monica Gonzalez, Davie, Florida

Well we are hanging in there.

image captionMonica Gonzalez may have to pawn or sell her wedding ring

We haven't been able to collect any benefits yet.

As a matter of fact we don't have internet at home any more as we had to cut down.

We're hoping to pay on time more important things like our rent, light and water.

Now is the time where we have to make a decision whether to pawn or sell our wedding rings.

It's the only way we will be able to pay for gasoline and food in the meantime.

It's agonizing, we are tired.

We really hope they reopen soon.

'Lucy', Massachusetts

We're fast approaching the two week mark in the government shutdown and the only things that are going in an upward direction are my levels of anxiety and my sense of worry.

I'm still working without pay and have begun to dip into my credit reserves, the very same ones that I laboured to pay down over the past few years.

I have family and friends (none of whom are employed in federal service) who are sympathetic and doing what they can to help, which is greatly appreciated.

Along with the woes that come from my lack of funds, my stress levels are higher than normal, which has me worried about my job performance.

This is wearing on me and I see it on my co-workers.

Morale is way down and though the people I work with are faithfully fulfilling their tasks, it's as sombre as a tomb here with an air of despondency.

The bills we have to pay are not going away, yet this stand-off continues.

When are those members of Congress going to wake up, get a conscience and do the right thing before it's too late?

It is sad to think that this childish bullying is coming from allegedly educated Congress people that we have put our trust in to do the right thing in the first place.

Jesse Weaver, Long Beach, Mississippi

image captionJesse Weaver has had to request extensions on bills

It's been very stressful with the continued lack of progress in our Congress.

Since I am a contractor, I am not likely to receive back pay.

I've been coping by just sort of holing up in the house.

I'm not spending any money or giving myself reason to do so.

My mother will likely need to take a loan out of her savings to make up for the income lost from my missed rent payments.

That should cover us for a little while.

But it's not a permanent solution.

I've had to request extensions on bills that are coming due, which will affect my credit standing if it persists.

Steven Crump, Basel, Switzerland

The chemical manufacturer in Switzerland I work for has been waiting for its raw materials to be cleared for entry by the FDA.

Without this I can't continue our implementation of a new chemical manufacturing process in the US.

Luckily, this past weekend our material was released by the FDA clearance officer.

I don't know how this was managed in light of the shutdown.

I attribute it to some good people moving forward with their responsibilities in spite of the hurdles thrown in front of them by our political leaders.

Unfortunately, it was too late for our current tests but at least we have it for the follow-up trial work which we must now schedule in the coming weeks.

We're feeling the impact of the shutdown closer to home too, as my daughter is an Ensign in the US Navy.

She is currently on inactive status because she is a medical student in New York.

She receives a stipend from the Navy to cover her living expenses but due to her status she will not get this while the shutdown continues.

What exactly is she supposed to use to pay her rent and buy food?

Elizabeth Coon, Newport News, Virginia

My dad will receive back-pay for the days he missed, and he was recalled to work this past Monday.

image captionFederal employees against the shutdown outside social security administration offices in Phoenix

He missed five days of work in total, and we are so grateful that we will not need to resort to missing a car or mortgage payment to be able to feed ourselves.

However, although our personal financial worry has been relieved for the most part, we are still seeing the effects of the shutdown in our community.

South-eastern Virginia has a lot of federally-run historical sites, including Yorktown and Colonial Williamsburg.

The businesses who operate on federally-owned land are losing income that will not be paid back at the end of the shutdown.

This kind of thing is happening all over the country, and it is still really frustrating to watch our government place politics over people.