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5% of federal workforce furloughed Friday as agencies shut down

May. 24, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Washington, DC Landmarks
The IRS, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, and the Housing and Urban Development Department — which have a combined staff of about 116,600 — closed down entirely May 24 to help meet their mandated budget cuts. Above is the IRS headquarters in Washington. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Roughly 117,000 federal employees are on leave without pay Friday in the first major round of sequester-driven furloughs.

The IRS, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Management and Budget, and the Housing and Urban Development Department — which have a combined staff of about 116,600 — closed down entirely May 24 to help meet their mandated budget cuts.

Another 437 Labor Department employees are also furloughed May 24, although the department is not shutting down. And the Interior Department’s Park Police is in the process of furloughing roughly 760 employees, although Interior could not say exactly how many of those employees were on unpaid leave Friday and how many were taking their furloughs on another day.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees, denounced the furloughs. IRS employees, like all other federal workers, are currently in the third year of a pay freeze and will be hurt even more by being forced to take an unpaid day off, NTEU said.

“This is a very unfortunate state,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley said. “Losing 10 percent of your pay in a single pay period is no small matter, especially when you face the same rising prices for necessities that are affecting your friends, neighbors and community.”

All IRS offices, including its call centers and taxpayer assistance centers across the country, were closed. The IRS will also shut down and furlough employees June 14, July 5, July 22 and Aug. 30.

The IRS said in a May 15 release that it may announce one or two additional furlough days, if the current furloughs do not save enough money.

The furloughs amount to more than 5 percent of the entire federal workforce.

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