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Budget / BUDGET

Shutdown Gallery: Who Is Essential?

October 8, 2013

The looming government shutdown threatens to furlough all "nonessential" federal employees. According to a senior Obama administration official, about 800,000 workers would fall into that category. But the somewhat loose definition could cause panic as some ask themselves: "Am I essential?"

Before those existential crises arise, let's take a look at some of the jobs that are guaranteed to be shutdown-proof.


Tim Pierce/Creative Commons via Flickr.

National Park Service Rangers

Rangers at national parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone would continue to patrol their turf even though the parks would be closed to tourists. According to Montana's Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Yellowstone's rangers would make sure that no drivers using the park's open through road decided to stop and play tourist.

FBI Agents

Any federal employees whose jobs serve to protect life or property are considered essential and would continue to be funded during a government shutdown. So that would include the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


AFP PHOTO/Karen Bleier

National Zoo Veterinarians

Although Washington's National Zoo would be closed to visitors, the animals would still need to be taken care of. Never fear, Giant Panda Tian Tian would be fed during a shutdown.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Postal Workers

The U.S. Postal Service would continue to deliver mail even in event of a shutdown. Post offices would stay open because the Postal Service is owned -- but not operated -- by the federal government.

Federal Court Workers

The federal court system relies on fees collected outside of the budget, so it would remain open for business. Because it is currently in session, the U.S. Supreme Court would also remain open.


Air-Traffic Controllers

Essential to keeping passengers safe in the air, the Federal Aviation Administration -- which employs air-traffic controllers -- would continue to operate.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

TSA Screeners

A government shutdown wouldn't furlough those who pat down. The Transportation Security Administration would continue to operate for the sake of national safety.

Eric Kayne/Getty Images

DEA Agents

Like the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration would continue its work during a shutdown. Investigating drug activity is considered essential to citizen protection.


David McNew/Getty Images

Border Patrol Agents

Customs and Border Patrol would continue to operate during a shutdown. Those who secure U.S. borders are considered essential to the "safety of human life and protection of property," according to the Office of Management and Budget.

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