The numbers here show the federal employees in Illinois by county in 2012, according to the latest figures from Eye on Washington, a DC-based lobbying firm that tracks federal employment. It compiles the data from the Office of Personnel Management, Federal Employment Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While much has been written on how the current sequestration battle in Washington could affect the national economy, these numbers are meant to give readers a sense of the sequestration at the local level.
Cook County has nearly 25,000 federal employees, most of whom work in veterans affairs.
The Department of Defense and Department of Human Services employ more than 4,900 people in the county. Roughly 14,000 civilian defense employees statewide would be furloughed under the sequester, which would reduce gross pay by $83.5 million.
Army base operation funding would be cut by about $19 million, while funding for Air Force operations in Illinois would be cut by about $7 million. Four planned Naval Station Great Lakes demolition projects ($2 million) could be canceled and a scheduled Blue Angels show in Rockford could be canceled.
Still, no one knows for certain what the sequestration cuts, some $85 billion, will mean exactly. Even if the March 1 federal cuts are enacted, the full effects would not be felt immediately. The government is required to alert impacted agencies of what cuts are to be made and what workers are to be furloughed.
It should be noted, however, that even the suggestion of cuts and the notification process itself could be felt in some community economies. Uncertainty for federal workers means they are likely to tighten their belts until they see what the cuts look like – and how long they last. It means those workers will likely spend less money at local shops and restaurants.
In some communities there may be only a handful of federal workers and the impacts may be small. But, as these figures show, in other counties federal employees numbers in the thousands and in those places the sequestration could become a more significant pain, particularly if it drags on for weeks or months.
(U.S. Postal Service Employees are excluded in this count. The USPS receives no tax dollars in its operations and would not be affected by the sequestration cuts.)
Ryan Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.