PORTLAND --In Oregon, federal workers who applied for and received state unemployment during the shutdown will not have to pay that money back even though they’ll also get back pay.
There are roughly 27,000 federal employees in Oregon with many of them returning to work Thursday for the first time since the government shutdown on Oct. 1.
The state employment department says roughly 4,400 federal employees in the state applied for unemployment during that time and the state is still working to calculate the total dollar amount that will be paid out to the furloughed workers.
Tom Fuller, Communications Director for the Oregon Employment Depeartment, told KGW that federal employees won’t have to repay their state unemployment because there was never any guarantee furloughed workers would get back pay after the shutdown.
"There's a rule in place. It was designed to protect private employees who had no guarantee of returning to their job," Fuller told KGW. "We have to apply it. We don't have a choice in this case."
“(I feel) fantastic, very fantastic. In fact, it was cool to see everybody just immediately get on their computers, hitting their emails. All I see is people trying to catch up. It’s really cool,” said Todd Curtis who works with the Bureau of Land Management in downtown Portland.
“Oh God, I'm glad to be back at work because it's so hard to just sit around and do nothing going like, ‘OK, what's going to happen today? Do I go to work? Do I not go to work?" Louisa Evers said.
Washington estimates roughly 3,400 federal workers applied for unemployment during the shutdown. But, unlike Oregon, those workers will have to pay back the benefits they collected.
KGW reporter Mark Hanrahan contributed to this report.