Sequester-Related Furloughs Will Harm National Security & the Economy

For Immediate Release:

July 10, 2013

Beginning this week, civilian employees in the Department of Defense will be furloughed for a total of 11 days from now through the end of the fiscal year as a result of sequestration.  Because of House Republicans’ refusal to work towards a big and balanced deficit reduction agreement that ends the sequester and puts us on a long-term, fiscally sustainable path, middle-class workers across the country will see their pay reduced, face job insecurity, and will contribute less to local economies.

Sequester-Related Furloughs, By The Numbers:

650,000: Number of Defense Department civilian employees who are being furloughed.

85%: Percentage of the Department’s civilians being furloughed one day per week over the next three months.

11: The number of unpaid leave days these employees will have to take by September 30.

20%: The pay reduction furloughed workers are facing for the remainder of the fiscal year.

$600: The average pay cut per month for a civilian employee making $40,000 as a result of being furloughed.

$37 billion: The amount of defense cuts going into effect this year.

Why This Matters:

The civilian employees within the Department of Defense hold a variety of jobs that strengthen our national security and support our war-fighters currently serving in Afghanistan and across the globe. On days they are furloughed, civilian employees will be unable to complete projects on time and fulfill other duties, which will undermine our military readiness.

Military and defense officials have warned about the impact of sequester’s furloughs on our military force:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel:

“I understand that the decision to impose furloughs imposes financial burdens on our valued employees, harms overall morale, and corrodes the long-term ability of the Department to carry out the national defense mission.  I will continue to urge that our nation’s leaders reach an agreement to reduce the deficit and de-trigger sequestration.” [Stars and Stripes, 5/14/13]

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno:

“If we have sequestration, the problem we have is with this balance between end strength, readiness and modernization.  I think it’s going to be really hard for us to create this right balance we need, and secondly I think it's going to impact not only end strength, (but) it’ll impact our ability to train and be ready. And it will significantly impact our modernization programs. It’s a template for hollowing out the force.” [US Army, 5/17/12]

Additionally, these furloughs will have a negative impact on the economy.  As civilian federal workers struggle with an effective 20% pay cut, they have less income to spend at local businesses.   The Congressional Budget Office says that the full sequester is slowing economic growth and job creation. They estimate that without the sequester, the economy would grow 0.6% faster in 2013, and 750,000 more jobs could be created.  

Businesses officials from around the country agree that furloughs will have a negative impact on local economies:

Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce President Grier Blackwelder:

“We definitely feel there could be a significant hit with retail if [furloughed employees] put off major spending on things like cars and furniture.” [The State, 6/8/13]

Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce Vice President Paul Rumler:

“It isn't just about their families, it's about all of our families because we all are a community and the economy works by purchasing goods and services … That's not chump change when it comes to impacting a local economy, if something happens to that six percent, you'll notice it.” [KWQC, 7/8/13]

Debbie Arell-Martinez, executive director of the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce:

“If individuals have that much less to spend, then they’re not going to eat out, they’re not going to go to the movies, they’re not going to do that extra retail spending that they would normally do.” [St. Louis Business Journal, 7/8/13]

Dave Hardman, president and CEO of the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce:

“They could put off that work they were planning at their home. And that means they won't be spending their money at Home Depot or Lowe's, so you can see how quickly the effects of something like this can accumulate.” [KSL, 7/8/13]

Jim Smith, president and CEO of the Davis Chamber of Commerce:

“Obviously, there are going to be significant financial impacts any time you take that kind of money out of the economy.” [KSL, 7/8/13]

Reaction From Across the Country:

Nearly 20,000 military civilians in Oklahoma begin furloughs this week
“According to base officials at Tinker, work at the massive aircraft maintenance center will essentially shut down on furlough days, leading to a 20 percent loss in production through September.” [7/7/13]

Sequester furloughs set to begin this week at Tacoma's military base
“Unpaid furloughs for thousands of workers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will cause restrictions on Army training and halt the basic administration of running the largest military installation on the West Coast for the next 11 Fridays, according to an operations plan released by the base.” [7/8/13]

More than 1,600 Pa. National Guard employees furloughed due to sequester
“Furloughs began Monday for more than 1,600 Pennsylvania National Guard employees as a result of sequestration, and it will cost the employees about 20 percent of their pay for the next three months.” [7/8/13]

Furloughs begin at Scott Air Force Base
“Furlough days started Monday for the nearly 4,500 civilian employees at Scott Air Force Base.” [7/8/13]

860 Idaho military employees to begin ordered furloughs this week
“Marsano said 860 military technicians, or civilian workers across Idaho will be taking the unpaid days off. This is part of an order passed down from Washington D.C. in the 2013 sequester budget deal. Military families will now have to live with a 20 percent reduction in income.” [7/8/13]

Furloughs to strike base workers hard
“More than 1,870 civilian employees at Naval Support Facility Indian Head will be furloughed one day each week from July 8 until September as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed in May, said Gary Wagner, public affairs officer for Naval Support Activity South Potomac. NSASP administers both the Indian Head and Dahlgren, Va., U.S. Navy bases.” [7/5/13]

Pentagon furloughs will cut pay for thousands of Arizona defense workers
“The furloughs will hit more than 650,000 civilian defense employees nationwide and save the Defense Department $1.8 billion in this fiscal year. Officials could not immediately provide an estimate on the loss of wages in Arizona, but some said the cuts will be felt in the local economy. Harry Shapiro, of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, noted that Luke Air Force Base is a big part of the economy in that part of the state, so ‘of course’ the cuts will cause an impact.” [7/8/13]

Furloughs hit 10,000 civilian defense workers in Indiana
“In Lawrence, those two days off every week will have substantive effects on the city’s commercial and retail industry, said Mayor Dean Jessup. While most of the accounting center’s employees don’t live in in Lawrence, he said, not having them in the city at the beginning and the end of the week will have an effect.” [7/8/13]

Charleston area braces as Pentagon furloughs take effect
“Statewide, the total number is more than 11,000 workers being furloughed, primarily from areas around South Carolina’s other three leading military towns, Beaufort, Columbia and Sumter.” [7/7/13]

Furloughs start for 10,000 N.J. defense workers
“At Picatinny Arsenal in Rockaway Township 4,700 of the facility’s 5,000 workers — including engineers, scientists and administrative personnel — will be subject to furloughs, said spokesman Jason Kaneshiro.” [7/8/13]

Civilian employee furloughs begin on Fort Drum
“It's a 20 percent cut in pay for Fort Drum's civilian workforce, everything from maintenance to range and training experts to fire and police to public affairs to cultural resources, everything except child care and sexual harassment and assault response teams.” [7/8/13]

Sequestration takes its toll at West Point, Stewart Air National Guard
“The furloughs prompted West Point to take a number of steps, such as closing West Point schools for five days in September and Washington Gate until further notice.” [7/9/13]

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