In a vote taken early Wednesday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to fund government spending through the end of the fiscal year, a move that has the potential to avoid a government shutdown—at least until October. The measure, which passed by a margin of 267-151, could provide welcome news for Hampton Roads, as an economic forecast released by Old Dominion University on March 1 predicted that the federal budget crisis would cost the Hampton Roads region more than 12,000 jobs this year. The analysis assumed spending cuts would occur consistently throughout 2013.
In January, ODU forecasted an increase of more than 5,000 jobs for 2013. The dramatic negative swing was a result of defense cuts, although the report will be updated after the March 27 deadline for Continuing Resolution, and the Pentagon could still reverse a string of ship maintenance delays and cancellations that have a disproportionate effect on Newport News and Norfolk due to their large shipbuilding facilities.
The real problems will start in April if the cuts continue. That's when the Defense Department is expected to begin furloughs for its civilian workforce, with around 40,000 civilian defense workers living in Hampton Roads. Plans currently call for them to work four-day weeks for 22 weeks, effectively reducing their take-home pay by 20 percent through the spring and summer.
The forecast says the region stands to lose more than $2 billion in direct and indirect spending.
View the ODU Economic Forecasting Project