"A number of my locals have been hit pretty hard," said Richard Gennetti, national representative for District 3 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which covers Pennsylvania and Delaware.
At the National Park Service in Philadelphia, 186 of 225 workers have been furloughed, he said. At the NPS regional office at the Custom House, it's 40 of 58.
Seventy-five workers were furloughed at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. At the local office of the Environmental Protection Agency, 600 of 1,000 were out of work, and an additional 200 were furloughed at regional sites tied to the Philadelphia office.
Workers who stayed on the job - deemed essential - were those responsible for protecting lives and property, or needed to run machinery that would be costly to stop and later restart.
Gennetti said workers would generally be able to get along without pay for a couple days. The question is what happens if the shutdown endures.
"If it stretches into next week, it's really going to bite their paycheck and bite their operating funds," Gennetti said. "There's a concern that more than two or three days of being off, and two or three days of having your paycheck cut, will cause a significant financial burden."
About 46,880 federal employees work in the Philadelphia and Camden metro areas.
The government closed because Republicans and Democrats could not agree on a spending plan for the federal fiscal year that began Tuesday. House Republicans demand that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature achievement, be defunded or delayed as part of a budget. Senate Democrats have refused, blaming Republicans for shutting down parts of the government over their objections to a single law.
"It's deplorable," said Carl Spiron, 64, of West Chester. "Ninety percent of Americans are opposed to what these people [in Congress] are doing. What we have now is two opposing governments that don't represent the people."
Officials had to cancel an open house and Hometown Heroes day that was expected to draw 10,000 Saturday to the Horsham Air Guard Station. The event was to include a charity 5K race on an old runway, a car show, and a small-business fair. But it's not among the essential military functions being funded during the shutdown.
"I've told people it's out of our hands," said Anna Richar, the station's airmen and family readiness program coordinator. "The government shutdown, it affects a lot of things."
On Wednesday in Philadelphia, about 20 people rallied to protest the shutdown and call on Republican members of Congress to end it. Most demonstrators who gathered outside the Veterans Affairs Building were volunteers with Organizing for Action or Protect Your Care, which support Obama and the Affordable Care Act.
"What is going on in Washington is affecting real people here in Philadelphia," said Julia Cusick, head of the Pennsylvania chapter of Protect Your Care.
She called on Philadelphia-area lawmakers to help find a solution to restart the government and retain the health-care law.
"Tying it to the budget is irresponsible and unconscionable," she said.
In Center City, tour buses continued to roll, albeit past a quiet Independence Mall.
"Empty," said Scott Conkling, who was visiting from Kansas City and had hoped to tour Independence Hall. "It's silly they put these people out of work, but they're collecting a check in Congress."
The Mural Arts Program announced Wednesday that its show would go on. The shutdown forced a last-minute change of venue for Saturday's 70x7 The Meal, act XXXIV, where 900 people will dine outdoors as a kind of temporary public art.
The new location, moved from Independence Hall, is Thomas Paine Plaza, across from City Hall.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, recently moved from 16th and Callowhill Streets to 30 N. 41st St. in West Philadelphia, was open to the public Wednesday. Workers there get paid through direct-deposit checks posted every two weeks, the next scheduled to arrive Oct. 14. So for the moment, it's business as usual.
Around the country, every national park was shut, the call centers that help veterans were closed, new applications for small-business loans were stopped. The EPA halted nonessential inspections of drinking-water systems.
Still operating: the Postal Service, checks from Social Security, the military, air-traffic controllers, prison guards, and border-patrol agents. NASA Mission Control continues to keep watch on astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration posted a message on its website and a recording on its phone: If you need to report a workplace fatality, call the hotline: 1-800-321-OSHA. The Census Bureau stopped offering its counts and numbers online.
In Frazer, George Santiago, 30, a supervisor at the Gentle Touch Car Wash, was asked whether he was impacted by the shutdown
He smiled. "I'm still paying taxes."
Contributing to this article were Inquirer staff writers Carolyn Davis, Michael Matza, Tricia L. Nadolny, and Ben Finley.