As the threat of sequestration looms for the Department of Defense, government contractors across the country are prepared to issue pink slips to thousands of employees.
The nation’s military contractors face $487 billion in budget cuts over the next decade and an additional $500 billion in automatic cuts in January if Congress does not agree on an alternative to reduce the federal deficit, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In California, more than 113,000 aerospace jobs could be cut, as could thousands more from shops across the state, said California Republican Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon.
“Congress is playing political chicken with people’s jobs,” added McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “The clock is ticking.” (SEE ALSO: Taxpayer watchdog takes Rep. McKeon to the woodshed for ‘his dogged pursuit of pork’)
The additional defense cuts are the result of a law passed last year that required billions of dollars in funding to be held back — or sequestered — until lawmakers can come to an agreement. Once an agreement is reached, the funds would be reinstated. Last week, Congress passed an amendment requiring the Obama administration to specify which federal programs could face additional cuts.
The Aerospace Industries Association, located in Arlington, Va., estimated that one million jobs could be lost nationwide if Congress fails to come to an agreement on the defense budget.
At Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense firm, employees could start seeing pink slips as early as September. According to the company’s CEO, Robert J. Stevens, a federal law requires companies to notify employees of layoffs 60 to 90 days before they are let go.
Stevens said the budget cuts would have a significant impact on his company’s 123,000 employees and 40,000 equipment suppliers.
So far, companies like Lockheed and Northrup Grumman, Corp., have laid off 1,500 and 500 workers, respectively. And according to the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents many U.S. aerospace suppliers, the sequestration could create a loss of 1.01 million private-sector jobs, including 130,000 manufacturing jobs by 2014.
“The implementation of sequestration as presently mandated could have a very serious negative impact on our company, our industry and, of course, on the defense capacity of our nation,” said Northrup spokesman Randy Belote.