"I know they are and I don’t really quite understand why," the Commerce Secretary said, as he advised federal workers to get a loan to tide them over financially.
Ross also criticized some workers who have been calling in sick due to financial issues caused by the shutdown, and the lack of pay.
"It's kind of disappointing that the air traffic controllers are calling in sick in pretty large numbers," Ross said in the CNBC interview.
Democrats quickly attacked.
"Another 'Let them eat cake' moment from the Trump Administration," said Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
"Secretary Ross's comments are the 21st Century equivalent of, 'Let them eat cake,'" said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
"This Administration doesn’t understand the struggles of middle-class families and they won’t even try," said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).