Absences among US airport screeners jump as shutdown drags on

Passengers waiting in a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) line at JFK airport, on Jan 9, 2019, in New York City.
Passengers waiting in a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) line at JFK airport, on Jan 9, 2019, in New York City.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Unscheduled absences among federal airport security screeners jumped on Sunday (Jan 13) as a partial government shutdown that has frozen pay checks moved into its 23rd day.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the agency responsible for airport security screening, said unscheduled absences among its employees rose to 7.7 per cent from 5.6 per cent last Saturday. The rate is more than double the 3.2 per cent rate experienced a year ago.

The TSA said in a statement on Sunday that security had not been compromised at US airports.

The screeners are among the lowest-paid federal employees. While they will be paid once the shutdown ends, many say they will struggle to pay bills in the meantime.

Miami International Airport said it planned to reopen Concourse G on Monday. The concourse was closed for part of the weekend because not enough TSA workers were present to staff the security checkpoint.