Well, not really. Chances are that if you only deal with the government on an as-needed basis, you haven't even noticed it that much. Especially coming into St. Paul, traffic is noticeably lighter. You don't get the highway travel information from MnDOT, but the local radio stations are finding ways to improvise.
Are there people who are suffering? Sure. The businesses in downtown St. Paul that cater to state workers aren't enjoying things much, as the Star Tribune reports:
State workers and their much-sought-after dollars have disappeared from St. Paul since the shutdown began, sending businesses scrambling to survive. They are cutting hours and staff and hoping the stalemate resolves itself before sharp declines in sales send them nosediving toward oblivion.I don't doubt any of that, especially the margins for skyway retailers, who tend to pay significant rent for the ability to reach people on a very limited basis. And it is unfortunate that such businesses are suffering, especially since all this could have been avoided.
"I don't know even if we're going to make it for rent next month," said Alinda Saurez, of Pickerman's Soup and Sandwiches in the Securian Building skyway.
Many lunch spots downtown are being hit especially hard. They've relied heavily on the state offices just steps away, including the departments of Public Safety, Health, Employment and Economic Development, and a Driver and Vehicles Services office.
Matt Kramer, president of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, estimates the shutdown has taken about 3,000 state workers away from downtown. Businesses can probably endure for a week or two, but anything longer is concerning, he said.
"It's really important to remember that we have a very fragile economic recovery," Kramer said. "If you're a small retail operation ... people would be amazed how thin the margins are. If your business goes down 30 percent, you're going to have to make some significant adjustments on the spot."
Of course, were a major downtown St. Paul employer to pull up stakes, the impact would be the same initially, and worse in the long run. The government workers will come back eventually. If Securian or Ecolab or the Travelers left, these same merchants would likely be out of business, too.