The government shutdown has some furloughed federal employees turning to pawn shops for cash

A pawn shop.

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A pawn shop.
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Oli Scarff / Getty Images

  • Federal employees are visiting pawn shops for some extra cash as the longest government shutdown in US history continues.
  • An estimated 800,000 federal employees are furloughed thanks to the shutdown, receiving no paychecks.
  • A pawn shop in Chicago reported that 10 to 20 federal employees stop by each day as the shutdown continues.

It’s been 25 days since the longest government shutdown in US history started and some of the 800,000 furloughed federal workers are being forced to find new ways of making ends meet as they remain without paychecks.

One of the ways some employees are raising extra cash is by visiting pawn shops across the country.

“I feel sorry for them,” said Randy Cohen, the owner of a pawn shop in Chicago. “Listen, they got to pay their mortgage. They got to pay a car payment.”

Cohen told CBS News that he sees 10 to 20 federal employees at his pawn shop every day, thanks to the shutdown. On Monday, a worker sold him a prized van for $6,500.

“Oh he loves this thing. You should’ve heard what he put into it. He put a satellite TV, a sound system and a sunroof back there,” Cohen said. He told ABC7 he gives customers a lower interest rate when he hears their shutdown stories.

Read more: The government shutdown could cause a disaster for the US economy if Trump follows through on his threat to continue the fight for ‘months’

Cohen is not the only pawn shop owner giving federal employees some sort of break. In Las Vegas, a pawn shop is offering zero interest loans to federal workers. Michael Mack, who owns the store, told KTNV that, before Christmas, a few furloughed workers needed help buying presents and groceries.

“It’s really unfortunate that it’s that many hardworking individuals who work for our government that possibly have been affected by this government shutdown, and during the holidays especially,” he said. “We had two different individuals who wanted to go out for New Year’s Eve who thought that wasn’t a possibility. They didn’t get that paycheck … They got a loan and gave them the opportunity. You have to bring an item still of value get a pawn, but we charge no interest as long as you pay it back within 30 days.”

In Kansas, a pawn shop owner anticipating a higher demand for loans coming from furloughed employees told KWCH12 his store will offer payday loans with zero interest. Employees will have to pay these loans the day they receive their first post-shutdown paycheck.

Visiting pawn shops is just one of the measures federal employees have been forced to turn to as we approach the end of the first month of the shutdown. Other workers have started GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for bills or picked up extra shifts at secondary jobs. Meanwhile, some government organizations have shared controversial tips for workers looking to make extra money.