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Ohio may lose $111M in AF cuts

Furloughed Air Force civilian workers would cost Ohio’s economy $111.1 million in lost wages through September, according to a document obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

The estimate is based on 14,278 workers furloughed for 22 days of unpaid time off, the Air Force document said.

Wright-Patterson could send home up to 13,000 civilian workers on furlough if Congress and President Barack Obama fail to avert sequestration, or automatic defense and domestic spending reductions set to begin March 1. The Air Force has said it could furlough up to 180,000 civilian employees, each of whom would have to receive a 30-day notice before leaving the job temporarily.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Tuesday the numbers were accurate, but were “constantly evolving.”

“The issue really is the economic impact is not predictable right now,” Joseph Zeis, Dayton Development Coalition executive vice president and chief strategic officer, said Tuesday.

While potential furloughs would be significant “the ripple down effects of that are indeterminate,” he said.

The impact on defense industry workers and contractors are unknown, he said. But the loss in days on the job will hurt national security, such as fewer maintenance workers to maintain aging Air Force warplanes as old as half a century, Zeis said.

With that many furloughs, the ripple effect of fewer dollars in paychecks could reach an economic impact of $150 million or more in the region, said Phillip L. Parker, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer.

Thomas L. Traynor, a professor and chairman of the Wright State University economics department, said sequestration could cause a ripple effect depending on how long the cuts last and how that impacts local spending.

“The problem in estimating the effects of all this is that it really depends on how long the cuts last – which simply can’t be known,” he said in an email. “Needless to say, the longer the cuts last the stronger the impact on the economy.

“Remember,” he added, “these deadlines have been faced multiple times before, and last-minute agreements have been reached to prevent the cuts.”

An estimated 13,000 furloughs at Wright-Patterson represent about 3.4 percent of the workforce in Montgomery, Miami, Greene and Preble counties, according to Richard Stock, director of the Business Research Group at the University of Dayton.

The loss in wages would be equivalent to between one-half and three-quarters of 1 percent in overall annual wages earned in the Dayton metro region, Stock said.

In January, Wright-Patterson imposed a civilian hiring freeze and expects to terminate the employment of up to 344 temporary or term employees because of budget cuts.

Under sequestration, Wright-Patterson also would cut 15 percent out of the base’s operations spending. Another $2.7 million wouldn’t be spent on infrastructure to replace street lights and to install a waterline, among other projects, documents show.

Texas and Oklahoma would experience the largest Air Force civilian furloughs with more than 16,000 workers affected in each state. Ohio only ranks behind Georgia, which would furlough more than 15,500 civilian employees, at Air Force workplaces around the world, the document said.

Wright-Patterson employed more than 29,700 military and civilian personnel in 2011 and had a $4.7 billion economic impact, according to base figures.

Zeis said the Dayton region is well-positioned despite any losses because of high-tech expertise in areas from information technology to advanced human performance research and development.

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