1,300 furloughed federal employees get back pay and unemployment

      EUGENE, Ore.- Oregon federal employees who received unemployment benefits during the shutdown will not have to repay the money even though Congress agreed to provide back pay.

      The budget bill approved by Congress on Wednesday states that all federal employees will receive back pay for the time they didn't working during the partial government shut down.

      Many federal employees struggled throughout the shutdown financially, said Vicki Walker, state director of Rural Development for the USDA.

      "I know several people who couldn't make mortgage payments, or took out loans. It was nerve wracking," Walker said.

      According to the state, there are approximately 27,000 federal employees.

      Out of 4,400 federal employees who applied for unemployment, 1,300 received payment from the state.

      While many states will require workers to return any unemployment money they collected during this period due to the back pay agreement, Oregon will not.

      Tom Fuller of the Oregon Employment Department said the state law is unfair, and officials are working to change it.

      "Where a person does not have a certain date of return to work and they have no certainty they'll be receiving backpay, the person is eligible to receive benefits and don't have to pay them back once they receive their back pay. This rule was written without any notion that there would be a federal shutdown," Fuller said.

      The shutdown lasted a little over 2 weeks, but Oregon's federal employees would only be eligible for one week of unemployment benefits because of a one week "wait" period, that applies to those seeking assistance.

      The checks distributed totaled $680,000.

      This money will be reimbursed by the federal government, according to the Oregon Employment Department.