RI DLT bracing for thousands of unemployment claims

The state Department of Labor and Training is bracing for what could be as many as 7,000 unemployment claims from federal workers in Rhode Island.

"The first day that you are out of work through no fault of your own, you can file a claim," said Laura Hart, spokeswoman for the DLT. "So we believe that we've already started to see some claims being filed."

Rachelle Butts is one who might have to file.

"It'll be the first time in my life having ever applied for unemployment," she said.

Butts and her husband both work at Naval Station Newport, have two children and live in North Kingstown. They were hit with furloughs when the government imposed a sequester.

"We still haven't really quite recovered from the one that we went through this summer when both my husband and I were furloughed," Butts said.

As much as she hopes the shutdown will be short, Butts is preparing for the worst.

"I think we really need to start digging down," Butts said. "Hopefully the stuff in my freezer and all the canned goods that we still have left over from the summer will get us through. We got to cut corners where we can. But there's only so many corners you can cut before you're telling bill collectors, 'Sorry, please contact my congressman if you'd like my payment.'"

Many of the workers at the Department of Labor and Training are paid with federal funds.

There's a financial cushion, but if the government shutdown lasts long enough, some of the workers could lose their jobs and delay the application process for unemployment.