Fiscal Cliff Threatens 277,000 Federal Jobs

federal job cuts fiscal cliff

By Jennifer Liberto

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Federal workers have weathered a two-year pay freeze, increased health insurance premiums, and threats of more cuts from Republicans.

Now their jobs are in jeopardy. Some 277,000 workers -- 14% of the federal work force -- could lose their jobs in the next 12 months if the U.S. cannot avert the so-called fiscal cliff, according to a study by the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.

If Congress doesn't act by Jan. 1, the U.S. will go over the fiscal cliff, triggering about $1.2 trillion worth of spending cuts over a decade.

The cuts could slice some 48,000 federal workers from civilian defense jobs and 229,000 from federal jobs.

No one knows exactly how the cuts would fall. The White House's Office of Management and Budget has released figures on how much is slated to be axed from each agency. But it has yet to identify programs at stake.

Jobs could be slashed from food inspections, health institutes, national parks and even air traffic control towers staffed by Federal Aviation Administration employees, said Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis.

Fuller laid out the worst-case scenario of the spending cuts.

"What that means is some airports won't be able to land as many planes, because FAA controllers won't be in the towers," said Fuller, a public policy professor. "FBI agents won't be on the ground investigating and meat inspectors won't be inspecting."

When contacted, spokespersons from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI, and the National Park Service referred CNNMoney to the Office of Management and Budget for questions on fiscal cliff-related job cuts. The OMB declined comment.

Federal workers have been in the line of fire. House Republicans have held hearings questioning their pay and benefits. Last month, the president extended a two-year pay freeze on salaries through March.

In the presidential debates Wednesday night, Mitt Romney pledged that if elected he'd "cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments," although he said the moves would be accomplished through attrition.

It's not just federal workers who are facing cuts.

If the fiscal cliff isn't averted, it will lead to job losses in the private sector too, which could push unemployment above 9% by the end of 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Despite employee fears, the Obama Administration is telling federal agencies, as well as private federal contractors, not to prepare for massive furloughs and layoffs.

The Administration is betting that Congress will beat the fiscal cliff deadline, even if it means kicking the can down the road, as lawmakers have done so many times before.

Federal workers have received little to no guidance about how to prepare for the fiscal cliff, except by some of their union leaders.

"I've been telling employees for the last year: You need to start putting something away just in case the worst case scenario happens," said Don Hale, a local president of the American Federation of Government Employees at the U.S. Military Academy West Point. He and others workers at West Point are among those whose civilian defense jobs are at stake.

"The problem with that is: It's hard for a (worker) at West Point making $12 an hour to put away a nest egg."

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Personally this is a good thing. Any way they can reduce the peoples debt (No it is not the governments debt. It is your debt.) is high on my list of things the government should be doing.

October 06 2012 at 1:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I worked for various US government agencies- I would say at least 1/3 of the staff could be cut---starting at the top- one place I worked 2 woman took at least 3 hours more in breaks than were allowed----everyday-----computer games - the normal---weekly doctors appointment

October 06 2012 at 9:02 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

poor federal workers,what makes you any different than the average worker.
you don`t think we have salary freezes and increased health care costs ( that won`t be picked up by the tax payer ) .

the federal government is no different than any other company,too many employees,not enough income ,cuts have to be made.

this is what the rest of america has to deal with every day .

October 06 2012 at 8:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Obama has been pushing us closer to the edge of the cliff since he was allowed in The white House. Time to elect a real president. One who possesses leadership qualities. One who can at the very least, complete a sentence on his own One who Americans will not be ashamed of.......................................Vote to save America..............................BYE BYE BOBO 2012..........................................WELCOME PRESIDENT ROMNEY.

October 06 2012 at 7:13 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

This would only be the beginning as well. They do not address the "carry over" into the jobs of the civilian sector. All the contractors that work hand in hand with the Federal Government. There are thousands of jobs riding on this situation at companies such as Boeing, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Raytheon and many many others. People work for all kinds of companies from very very large to small who do jobs for the U.S. Armed Forces and other Federal Agencies such as building maintenance, food preparation, depo level repair work on equipment, so on and so forth. In the end, the United States economy could see a jobs loss close to 1 million total.

October 06 2012 at 1:29 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Firefly Tech

Thank Obama for doubling the debt in just four years. He has taken us to the point of no return! American will never be the same. You can win a war by killing their financial system, like he is doing now.

October 06 2012 at 1:03 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

These are 1/2 of the add on Obumbo added to the jobs creation we did not need, These are the same 277,000 standing by the water cooler all day. It was 2or 3 years ago the president and congress got this report that we had as many as 6 agencies doing the same jobs. What ever happen, NOFT! Wake up America!

October 06 2012 at 1:02 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

"Kicking the can down the road?" What a simplistic and non threatening way to say "make it the next administrations problem."
Does no one see this is madness?
I do not even want to think about the time when someone will have to "pick up the can."

October 06 2012 at 12:59 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I don't understand the statement "Federal workers have received little to no guidance about how to prepare for the fiscal cliff except by some of their union leaders". In the private sector I've never heard of such a thing. It's called reality, sad as it may be. I've been laid off more than once in my lifetime. I pulled up my big boy pants and hit the pavement. I didn't need to be molly coddled.

October 05 2012 at 11:06 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

You forgot Republican control the House and have not put Obama job bill up for a vote??? According to Moody's Analytics, Obama's Amercian Jobs Act would have created 1.9 million jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Obama's American jobs Act would have saved 2.6 million jobs and protected an additional 1.6 million existing jobs. According to Macroeconomic Advisors, Obama's American Jobs Act would create 2.1 million jobs. According to Goldman Sachs, Obama's American Jobs Act would have added 1.5 % to the GDP. (My source: the Progress report, September 7, 2012.)

The Republicans blocked Obama's American Jobs Act for one reason only. They did not want Americans to get jobs; they wanted to deny Obama a second term. Once again, if the GOP can run the country, they plan to destroy it.

In addition to blocking Obama's American Jobs Act, the GOP blocked the Bring the Jobs Home Act, which would have ended tax cuts for off-shoring American jobs. They also are also refusing to extend the Production Tax Credit, which will cause thousands of lay-off's in American's emerging wind industry.

The American people need to demand immediate action from Congress. Pass Obama's jobs proposals. If the GOP balks., then let's re-hire Obama and fire the entire GOP.

October 05 2012 at 10:53 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
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