What If They Closed Government and Nobody Noticed?

Dave Schuler reports that this is exactly what happened in his hometown of Chicago. The Monday furlough that was touted as a draconian way to cut the budget wound up hurting only the government employees who get screwed out of a day’s pay.

Dave suggests, “If this keeps up the people of Chicago may decide that a permanent 20% cut in the city’s payroll achieved by cutting the work week for city employees to four days and cutting their pay accordingly might not be a bad thing.”

I suspect most city services could be provided adequately with four-day staffing; indeed, most government agencies and even many businesses could probably gain efficiency by going to that model.   The 20% pay cut, however, would surely sting.

Photo by Flickr user masonliu under Creative Commons license.

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    In my neighborhood we’ve started a pool on when our trash will be collected.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Thankfully, our community isn’t covered by county trash and we have half a dozen private firms competing to pick up our trash on a house-by-house basis. So we get low cost and can take pretty much anything down to the curb on collection day (twice weekly plus a third day for yard waste) and expect that it’ll be hauled off without question.

  3. mpw280 says:

    Can’t say as it caused me any trouble with the city being closed for a day, life went on as normal. They could probably chop 20% of the people working for the city and it wouldn’t make a difference to service or quality of service. Patronage is king in Chicago and city hall is chock full of workers doing nothing and drawing a check. mpw

  4. PD Shaw says:

    4 days a week
    x 8 hours a day

    = Average American Work Week Plus One

  5. rodney dill says:

    Michigan is doing this six times this summer.

  6. Good thing it wasn’t the Monday morning when Jake and Elwood showed up to pay the orphanage’s taxes.

  7. Ben says:

    My company instituted a furlough for all employees from June 1 to Sept 1 this year in lieu of any layoffs. Everyone above regional manager had to take 5 hours off a week, and people under that line took off 3 hours. For the lower level employees, that came out to a week of work over the course of the summer. It hurt, but it saved our company enough money to avoid layoffs altogether. I’ll take that deal every time. Furloughs a good way to go, unless you truly do have deadweight that trimming would help your company.

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    The Monday furlough that was touted as a draconian way to cut the budget wound up hurting only the government employees who get screwed out of a day’s pay.

    Well, technically they did get a days worth of extra leisure, so they did get something. However, that they’d rather trade that leisure for added income indicates that they did get the worse part of the deal.

  9. Brett says:

    My home state (Utah) did the 4-day workweek, although they simply increased the hours daily from 8 to 10.