HARRISBURG – With the federal government shutdown lingering into its third week, PA Auditor General Eugene DePasquale noted that federal contract employees who have no hope of getting back pay are facing dire choices, including applying for jobless benefits. DePasquale said an estimated four million people nationwide work for the federal government on a contract basis and unlike full-time employees who may eventually receive back pay, these workers have no chance of being paid for the time they were furloughed. The situation, DePasquale said, is driving some impacted workers to apply for unemployment compensation at a time when the state’s benefit system is already busy handling applications resulting from seasonal job market fluctuations. The PA Department of Labor saw a surge in jobless benefit applications from impacted federal workers in the final week of December – up almost 850% from the same week a year earlier. DePasquale said as Pennsylvania’s fiscal watchdog, it’s his job to speak up when a situation results in extra costs to taxpayers or a disruption to our economy. He added that the shutdown is causing hardship for thousands of Pennsylvanians and it’s time for Washington elites to stop playing games with the lives of hardworking Americans.