JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With Department of Defense employees across the country dealing with furloughs and a 20 percent pay cut and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel saying it could happen again next year, civilan workers here in Jacksonville are feeling the squeeze.
At major local employers like the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast at NAS Jax, employees like John Bagby say the effect has been profound on him, not to mention those in their 20s just starting their careers
He says money for things like vacation and car maintenance instead goes to groceries and utilities when you lose 20 percent -- or $300 in Bagby's case -- of your paycheck.
"$300 is a lot of money when you add it up over a period...thankfully they stopped over 11 weeks. That's a chunk of change," says Bagby, who works in aircraft quality assurance. "I heard somewhere somebody was talking about 'Well I can't get my nails done anymore.' Well that's not really what it is. It's more profound, it's more of an impact on your standard of living."
He says some employees are taking part time second jobs while others are taking retirement early. Still others worry about losing their jobs for various reasons. Bagby mentioned one secretary worried she'd lose her job because she was dealing with serious car trouble that she could not afford to fix due to the pay cut. Fortunately, he says, most everyone is more than willing to lend a hand in tough times.
"As a community here, we've really tried to come together.
He says it's not the first choice of the people who are doing it because he and his colleagues love their jobs and the sense of pride and patriotism it brings.
"For some of us, it's an honor to do what we're doing and so we do what we have to do and press on."
He says, however, there is a certain sense of betrayal felt when you help serve your country and that while none of them do what they do for the paycheck, patriotism doesn't pay the bills.