More than 650,000 civilians who work for the Department of Defense will begin to experience furloughs on Monday thanks to sequestration. The furloughs will amount to a 20 percent pay cut over the next three months as most workers will have one day without pay for each week through the end of September.
The Pentagon had originally projected it would need to institute 22 days of furloughs but announced in May that it would be reduced to 11. Pentagon officials also warn that they could disrupt operations. The furloughs were ordered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to meet sequestration’s budget cuts and officials project that they will save the Defense Department $1.8 billion.
The furloughs come just days after Christine Lagarde, chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), called sequestration cuts “absolutely inappropriate” and warned that they are slashing programs that help create economic growth in the longer term. The IMF has previously criticized the budget cuts and warned that they will cost the American economy.
The DoD furloughs are just the latest impact of the automatic, across-the-board cuts that went into effect in in March. The long-term unemployed, those who have been without a job for 27 weeks or more, are already experiencing big reductions in their unemployment benefits. Low-income preschoolers are being kicked out of their Head Start programs and 70,000 are projected to lose access as a result of sequestration, while schools on military bases and Native American reservations are experiencing debilitating cuts. Domestic violence shelters are reducing services and beds, warning that more women are likely to be killed by their partners because they can’t access the help they need. Meals on Wheels programs, which help feed the home-bound elderly, have had to drastically reduce the number of meals they can deliver.
In all, the $85 billion in budget cuts for the year are expected to hit many important programs, including housing assistance, disaster and emergency relief, national security organizations, and many more.