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Government closure: Companies and businesses pay attention to their budgets

Fill me out: In 2019, the United States experienced the longest government shutdown in our country’s history. For 35 days, the impact was felt by every person or organization that interacted with the federal government.

The 2019 shutdown in numbers

  • 35: the number of days the government was closed
  • 800,000: the number of federal employees furloughed
  • $5,000,000,000: the damage to the US economy

The business perspective

Individuals and businesses across the country felt the shutdown.

  • The 2019 government shutdown brought operations to a halt at a century-old Georgia hotel that serves thousands of people who visit Cumberland Island National Seashore each year. Due to a lack of federal funding, the National Park Service suspended ferry service to Cumberland Island – a move that virtually wiped out the hotel’s customer base overnight.

Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be the only ones who would feel negative effects if another shutdown occurred. The food service, leisure, hospitality and service industries would feel the pinch if customers stopped due to a government shutdown.


  • Tourists visiting our nation’s national parks, monuments and museums would find many of them closed or limited in capacity, and the local leisure and hospitality industry would see its customer base shrink.

  • Travelers would find federal transportation services, including the Transit Security Administration (TSA), operating below normal staffing levels, creating headaches for business and leisure travelers alike.

End effect: These indirect effects would represent an undesirable dampener on the economy, which continues to struggle with inflation. The good news is that a government shutdown is not inevitable. It’s a choice.

Extended government shutdown? Our member memo on the impact

September 18, 2023

Although the Biden administration and congressional leaders of both parties in the House and Senate want to avoid a government shutdown, there is widespread consensus that there will be a government shutdown at the start of the fiscal year on October 1.

If a government shutdown does occur, it will likely be significant in duration, with no clear path to reopening the government.

In a new memo to our members, the Chamber provides more detail on the possible duration of a closure and the impact on business and the economy so that our members can prepare accordingly.

About the authors

Neil Bradley

Neil Bradley

Neil Bradley is Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer and Director of Strategic Advocacy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He has spent two decades working directly with congressional committee chairs and other senior policymakers to find solutions.

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