$500 billion in defense cuts could be job-killer to Northwest Florida
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 03:33 PM CDT
Half a trillion dollars in defense cuts could begin in January. If Congress doesn't stop a process called sequestration, every military program will be cut 10 percent for ten years.
Some say what started as a bid to reduce the deficit could end up a job-killer in Northwest Florida.
This is a fairly common sight in Okaloosa County, the office of a defense contractor. They're big employers, bringing some of the highest paying jobs to an area where the military represents 60 percent of the economy.
The $500 billion in defense cuts that come with sequestration would be a body blow. Dr. David Goetsch of the Florida Defense Support Task Force uses the word "devastating."
"You're talking about businesses closing, you're talking about layoffs on and off base, you're talking about contracts for our main type of business which are defense contractors, simply drying up," said Dr. Goetsch.
Terry Henshaw is taking a rare day off from her work as a defense contractor. She feels secure in her job, but has friends who aren't.
"It goes so much deeper than just the individual and their immediate family, it's a domino effect," said Henshaw.
"I think more people are scared now than they've ever been," said Denise Johnson.
Denise Johnson is married to a contractor. She says the defense money keeps people working, and doesn't understand why Congress is so close to letting the cut happen.
"We have to depend on them to make these decisions, and that trickles down to all of us, and once again, their paychecks don't reflect that, they still live in their comfort zone," said Johnson.
Dr. Goetsch says the uncertain climate has already led many contractors to stop hiring.
"It's scary, because these are your friends, your neighbors, sometimes even your relatives, but it's affecting everybody," said Henshaw.
The local president of the National Defense Industry Association says our area probably wouldn't feel as much impact in the short term, but we could in 2014.