The much-publicized $85 billion in across-the-board sequestration cuts to the federal budget begin kicking in Friday, though their impacts will be borne out over the next several months.
We've chronicled a small portion of the local impact, particularly on financial aid to local college students and on a wide range of federally subsidized programs.
But exactly how many people in Santa Cruz County receive a federal salary and/or benefits? According to the latest figures for 2012 from Eye on Washington, a DC-based lobbying firm that tracks federal employment, the number is not astronomical: 1,309. But according to the data, which is compiled from the Office of Personnel Management, Federal Employment Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 760, or half of the people in Santa Cruz County receiving federal salary and/or benefits, are retired federal employees.
Another 337 people are U.S. Postal Service Employees and therefore are excluded in this count. The USPS receives no tax dollars in its operations and would not be affected by the sequestration cuts.
While much has been made 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.
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.
Here's a chart of the federal employees and retires in the 18th and 20th Congressional Districts, both of which include portions of Santa Clara County:County Monterey San Benito San Mateo Santa Clara
Total 9,360 296 8,531 15,5638 1,309 Defense/DHS 5,109 0 240 1,364 5 Vet. Affairs 74 0 878 2,986 9 Treasury 24 0 46 417 2 Agriculture 165 4 29 10 8 Interior 17 82 474 2 93 Transportation 22 1 77 85 0 Commerce 70 2 14 1,303 53 Energy/EPA 3 0 16 3 3 Postal* 502 62 1,905 3,138 2337 Social Security 399 0 56 196 23 Federal Retirees 3,228 140 4,679 5,791 760 Other 17 5 117 268 16