Commissary customers already are starting to see longer lines at the cash register in some locations as the result of the federal civilian hiring freeze, according to a Defense Commissary Agency spokesman.

And things could get worse.

“With an over 20 percent average turnover rate, if the hiring freeze continues for an extended duration we may eventually be forced to temporarily cut services or reduce days/hours if staffing problems occur,” said DeCA spokesman Kevin Robinson. Such moves will be “our last course of action,” he noted.

More than 1,650 of the agency’s 18,000 jobs are open, Robinson said. That’s a vacancy rate higher than 9 percent. Of those vacant jobs, 83 are management positions.

Cashiers and other commissary employees are federal civilian workers. Most of the employees work in the 238 commissaries in 14 countries around the world. Among the employees are military spouses who may leave their jobs to make a move to a new duty station with their service member; military spouses made up about 28 percent of DeCA’s worldwide workforce as of 2015.

To date, store hours and services haven’t been cut, Robinson said, as commissary officials have increased the hours of part-time workers.

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