WASHINGTON (AP) — If automatic spending cuts take effect on the first of March, the "vast majority" of the Defense Department's 800,000 civilian workers will be affected.
That's according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who says he may have to shorten the work week for most of those workers. They'd lose a day of work per week -- or 20 percent of their pay -- for up to 22 weeks, probably starting in late April.
In a written message to employees today, Panetta said he had told Congress that if there's no deal to avoid the furloughs, all affected workers will get at least 30 days' advance notice.
The Pentagon's budget chief, Robert Hale, set out today to dispel the notion that this would mainly be a problem for the nation's capital. Hale told reporters that the economic impact would be felt nationwide. According to figures provided by the Pentagon, the biggest potential losses -- in terms of civilian payroll dollars -- would be in Virginia, California, Maryland, Texas and Georgia.