WASHINGTON -- The Department of Defense says it would have to cut $154.9 million from its civilian payroll in Pennsylvania if automatic spending cuts take effect next month.
The department said the civilian payroll totaled $1.83 billion in the current fiscal year. The estimated 2013 fiscal year payroll was $1.67 billion.
The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reported the economic impact of the cuts on Tobyhanna Army Depot could be more than $300 million, slashing its budget by more than one-third. The paper said the state's other Army depot, Letterkenny in Franklin County, would absorb spending reductions of more than $449 million.
"That will happen by the end of the fiscal year," said Dove Schwartz, an Army spokesman. "That's not nine or 10 years down the road."
The impact: On Wednesday, Defense Sec-
retary Leon Panetta told Congress that if automatic government spending cuts kick in on March 1, he may have to shorten the workweek for the "vast majority" of the Defense Department's 800,000 civilian workers.
They would lose one day of work per week, or 20 percent of their pay, for up to 22 weeks.
Panetta also said the across-the-board spending reductions would "put us on a path toward a hollow force," meaning a military incapable of fulfilling all of its missions.
In a written message to employees, Panetta said he notified members of Congress that if the White House and Congress cannot strike a deficit reduction deal before March 1 to avoid the furloughs, all affected workers will get at least 30 days' advance notice.
The furloughs would be part of a broader plan the Pentagon is preparing in order to cut $46 billion through the end of this budget year, which ends Sept. 30.
More cuts would come in future years as long as the automatic government spending cuts, known as sequestration, remained in effect.
Which workers: The only civilian Pentagon workers who would be exempt from furloughs would be Senate-confirmed political appointees such as the defense secretary and deputy defense secretary, as well as a relatively small number of workers deemed essential to protect the safety of defense property and personnel.
President Barack Obama has exempted military personnel from furloughs.
The Pentagon cuts are rolled into $1.2 trillion in automatic reductions unless Congress acts to prevent them. The reductions are a consequence of budget talks that failed last year to address the country's mounting debt.
Statewide, the report projects the sequester would cut Army spending by $1.1 billion by Oct. 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year. It would result in furloughs to 8,421 civilian employees of the Army in Pennsylvania, with a loss of $50 million in income.
Letterkenny, in Franklin County, would absorb spending reductions of $442 million, according to the report.
The loss of 1,570 jobs would result because of decreased depot operations, the report states. It does not detail specific locations.
"This report further emphasizes the damaging impacts that the sequester could have on northeastern Pennsylvania," said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. "Republicans and Democrats should come together to avoid the sequester and cut spending in a responsible way."