LCSN: NMSU professor warns that federal job cuts could cost state hundreds of millions in payroll

February 5, 2013. Retrieved online February 6, 2013 from Brook Stockberger, Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES – Christopher Erickson was at a gathering to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday when he struck up a conversation with a friend who works in government.

The friend’s news was bleak.

“Federal employees are being told to prepare for layoffs,” said Erickson, who teaches economics and international business at New Mexico State University. “He said that right now, they are planning for 22 days of furloughs. Why 22 days? Apparently under federal law that’s the most furlough they can give before they have to lay anyone off.”

Erickson spoke at the February gathering of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance. The NMSU professor said that the government’s sequestration, set to go into effect in March, would result in a 15-percent reduction of federal employees. He said there 48,705 federal employees in New Mexico that make an average salary of $68,196. If New Mexico sees a 15 percent cut in that workforce, the result would be significant.

“If there is a 15-percent cut, that’s 7,300 jobs and a loss of $498 million in payroll,” Erickson said.

That would be lead to fewer Border Patrol agents, Customs agents, Bureau of Land Management employees and others, he said. Plus, the cuts would lead to job losses outside of the federal sphere.

“The estimate for all job sectors is about 28,000 direct and indirect job costs,” Erickson said.

Not only would there be the government job loss as well as with contractors and others who work directly with the government, but also the private sector as a whole would be affected.

“(You’ll see) effects in grocery store clerks and restaurant managers, (people) who are laid off because there is less business in New Mexico,” Erickson said. “New Mexico is more dependent on the government than is the national average.”

Read the Las Cruces Sun-News article

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