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Furloughed Federal Employees Could Fill These Places

An Americana tour of the towns you could replace with shutdown-rendered stay-at-home government workers.
October 14, 2013, 1:50pm
Image via Flickr

At a rate of what looks like about $2,200 per second, the current amount of unpaid federal salaries ($2.5 billion and counting) accumulates on this live graph by Enigma, which has been making its way around the Internet in the past few days. As you scroll down, you see an amazing, clickable chart that breaks down the furloughed—and furlough-exempt—federal employees.

Since there wasn't a great way of embedding Enigma.io's "Shutdown 2013" graph without running away with their credit, I thought I'd find another way to illustrate the masses of people that are off the job, twiddling their thumbs, awaiting pay, and moonlighting as escorts while Congress tiptoes toward global economic chaos.

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So here are the US cities that come closest in population to the different segments of government employees whose livelihoods have been put on hold for the past two weeks. Oh, and thanks to census.gov being shutdown (goddamnit!), I retrieved population data from my new favorite website, biggestuscities.com. Enjoy the scenery.

What I thought would be a simple task became more like a lengthy spread for a travel magazine, but here you have it: An estimate of how many government employees there are spending the day at home, and the populations of entire towns and cities they could replace. Keep in mind, my data are mostly coming from Enigma, which has neatly recorded the furlough numbers here. And note, to this I've added the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency that's had most of its employees furloughed as of October 9.

Department of Defense — 400,000 furloughed employees (most have since been recalled)

Oakland, California — Population 400,740

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The Department of Defense has enough furloughed employees to fill California's eighth biggest city. In case you're unfamiliar with the east bay, 'Oaktown,' or 'Bump City,' let me tell you, I'm an East Bay native, it's not that bad. Pictured above, you see the lovely Lake Merritt skirted by the bustling downtown. Oh yea, it's basically illegal not to smoke weed in Oakland. Happy furloughing!

Federal Trade Commission — 925 furloughed employees

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Rice, Texas — Population 925

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Department of Veteran Affairs — 15,287 furloughed employees

Long Beach City, Mississippi — Population 15,300

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The Department of Veteran Affairs furloughed workers equate to the population of this lesser-known, Hurricane Katrina-ravaged town of Harrison County. Residents and visitors are advised to play about and pose with the Friendship Oak.

Department of Labor — 13,350 furloughed employees

Monroe, Georgia — Population 13,349

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Small Business Administration — 2,187 furloughed employees

Postville, Iowa — Population 2,186

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Department of Homeland Security — 31,295 furloughed employees

Pullman, Washington — Population 31,359

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The 11-year old Department of Homeland Security, which was created in response to the September 11 attacks, has had enough of its employees furloughed to fill the city of Pullman, home to Washington State University and some beautiful scenery out by the Snake River. Just remember, you're not saying it right if your lips don't flare out when you utter, "Go Coooouuuugs!"

Executive Office of the President — 1,265 furloughed employees

Como, Mississippi — Population 1,265

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Social Security Administration — 18,006 furloughed employees

Lackawanna, New York — Population 18,006

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The amount of people living in the Lake Erie-side city exactly matches the amount of Social Security Administration employees that've been furloughed. There is a super impressive looking cathedral in this town, and you may remember the story of the Lackawanna Six, when six Yemeni-American men were arrested in 2002 on terrorism-related charges. This is where that went down.

Department of Agriculture — 64,211 furloughed employees

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East Orange, New Jersey — Population 64,268

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NASA — 17,701 furloughed employees

St. Matthews, Kentucky — Population 17,700

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Department of Health and Human Services — 40,512 furloughed employees

Norwich, Connecticut — Population 40,500

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The Department of Health and Human Services has had 52 percent of its workforce furloughed, or, enough people to fill the town of Norwich, Connecticut. The 'Rose of New England,' has its fair share of history, and cultural attractions, including this rad looking abandoned theatre in an old insane asylum.

Department of Commerce — 40,169 furloughed employees

San Gabriel, California – Population 40,150

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Smithsonian Institution — 3,514 furloughed employees

Freeland, Pennsylvania — Population 3,514

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Department of Justice — 18,186 furloughed employees

Manchester, Missouri — Population 18,165

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With 16 percent of Department of Justice workers furloughed, that's enough to fill the charming hills of this northeastern Missouri town. According to their own PDF, the DEA (DoJ) only found two meth labs in the city of Manchester exactly one year apart from each other (11/1/2005 and 11/1/2006).

Environmental Protection Agency — 15,134

Jasper, Indiana — Population 15,157

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National Archives — 1,932  furloughed employees

Superior, Nebraska — Population 1,933 

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Department of the Interior — 58,541 furloughed employees

San Rafael, California — Population 58,502

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This charming north bay enclave is right around the corner from America's largest death row prison, San Quentin, but you'd never know that unless you were headed to the rich neighborhoods to the west, or the prison itself. Basically, enough of the Department of the Interior's workers (81 percent) have been furloughed to replace this city's population.

Department of Education — 3,983 furloughed employees

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San Quentin Prison — Inmate Population 3,955 (Capacity 3,082)

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Speaking on, this prison, which is already overstuffed at 128 percent capacity, could easily house the entire Department of Education if everyone sucked in their stomachs. Thank God 5 percent of the Department's employees (212 people) are furlough-exempt and still at work, so no one in my imaginary-replacement scenario will have to suck their stomachs in.

Department of Housing and Urban Development — 8,360 furloughed employees

Lewistown, Pennsylvania — Population 8,360

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Nuclear Regulatory Commission — 3,600 furloughed employees

Honea Path, South Carolina — Population 3,600

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Federal Communications Commission​ — 1,716 furloughed employees

Johnson City, Texas — Population 1,716

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Department of Treasury — 88,710 furloughed employees

Longmont, Colorado — Population 88,669

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The Department of Treasury's 89 percent-furloughed staff easily replace the population of this picturesque mountain town, 33 miles outside of Denver. Besides local police warnings of a guy riding around on his bike grabbing women's asses and blowing them kisses, Longmont, Colorado looks like a stunning place to be.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — 1,407 furloughed employees

Elmore, Ohio — Population 1,407

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Securties Exchange Commission — 3,897 furloughed employees

Ashburn — Population 3,897

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Department of Transportation — 18,481 furloughed employees

Elizabeth City, North Carolina — Population 18,478

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One third of the Department of Transportation's employees have been furloughed by the shutdown, enough to replace the population of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Only five men were killed during the "Battle of Elizabeth City" during the Ameircan Civil War, making this waterside town a bit more than the last place to get Starbucks until Kitty Hawk.

National Science Foundation — 1,970 furloughed employees

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Townsend, Montana — Population 1,970

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Department of Energy — 9.584 furloughed employees

Dunn, North Carolina — Population 9,584

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Here's Obama visiting Dunn, just a few weeks before he was elected president.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission — 643 furloughed employees

Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania — Population 643

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State Department + Selective Service + National Endowment for the Arts + Armed Forces Retirement Home + Peace Corps + Federal Election Commission + Consumer Product Safety = 2,126 furloughed employees

Union, Oregon — Population 2,126

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Total furloughed employees — 886,992

Austin, Texas — Population 842,592

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Luckily, the Lone Star State capital can, and regularly handles, mass influxes of people for South by Southwest and its other festivals. Keep Austin weird.

@danstuckey