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Government shutdown: How Americans are feeling its growing effects (+video)

Among those taking a hit from the government shutdown, now more than a week old, are private businesses and their employees, homebuyers and charities, even hunters on federal lands.

By Staff writer / October 10, 2013

Donna Rice makes a thumbs down for a photo by her husband Barry after they traveled from Chicago to Zion National Park, which remains closed due to the government shutdown, near Springdale, Utah, Oct. 9, 2013.

Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune/AP

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Washington

A partial shutdown of the federal government has now lasted more than a week, with effects that are starting to seep into the lives and bank accounts of ordinary Americans.

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Some private sector employers have had to put workers on furlough. Private charities that depend on government assistance are worried about how to keep services going. And in a highly publicized disruption, military families have faced questions over whether traditional death benefits for fallen service members would be available as expected.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the full death benefits would still be provided, but only because a public charity (Fisher House Foundation) stepped in with interim financing for benefits that include a $100,000 death gratuity payment.

That isn’t business as usual for the US armed forces, and it’s not business as usual for the US economy.

The Labor Department on Thursday said that filings for unemployment benefits rose during the week that ended Oct. 5. About 15,000 of the new jobless claims stemmed from private sector workers laid off temporarily by the government shutdown.

Many government programs that Americans rely on are continuing as usual, including vital national security functions and the payment of Social Security checks.

Funding for nonessential services ran dry, however, as Congress failed to agree on a funding measure to start the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

Here’s a look at some of the impacts across the nation so far:

• Private sector jobs. Some companies that provide services or goods to the federal government are having to furlough workers as long as the shutdown lasts. One of the biggest examples is Lockheed Martin. The aerospace company says that is has “approximately 2,400 employees unable to work because the civil government facility where they perform their work is closed, or we’ve received a stop-work order on their [defense] or civil government program.”

Although many of the affected private sector employees are in the D.C. metro area, it’s a nationwide phenomenon. The Lockheed Martin furloughs affect workers in 27 states, for example.

• Private business sales. The shutdown has affected business, notably ones tied to tourism at national parks or the nation’s capital. On the national seashores along North Carolina's Outer Banks islands, business owners compared the financial magnitude of closed beaches and waterways to that of a hurricane-forced evacuation.

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