Ohio Air Force furloughs could be $111 million hit

DAYTON, Ohio - Furloughs for civilian Air Force employees could cost Ohio's economy more than $111 million through September, according to military documents obtained by a newspaper.

The Dayton Daily News reported Wednesday that the estimate is based on 22 days of unpaid time off for 14,278 civilian Air Force personnel in the state, most of them at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

The base has said it could impose furloughs on up to 13,000 civilian workers if Congress and President Barack Obama fail to avert 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 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 Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce says the ripple effect of furloughs could have an economic impact of $150 million or more in the Dayton area.

"The issue really is the economic impact is not predictable right now," Joseph Zeis, Dayton Development Coalition executive vice president and chief strategic officer, told the newspaper.

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

He said the loss in days on the job also could hurt national security, leaving fewer workers to maintain aging Air Force warplanes as old as half a century.

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

Under the automatic cuts, 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.

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

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.

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