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Minnesota National Guard technicians to be furloughed

More than 1,100 Minnesota National Guard technicians, including 241 in Duluth, will be furloughed later this summer. Technicians will be required to take one day off without pay each week for 11 weeks, from July 15 through September. For affected...

More than 1,100 Minnesota National Guard technicians, including 241 in Duluth, will be furloughed later this summer.

Technicians will be required to take one day off without pay each week for 11 weeks, from July 15 through September. For affected employees it amounts to a 20 percent pay cut during those two and a half months.

The furloughs are because of the Department of Defense-directed automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration. The National Guard began notifying the technicians of the furloughs Wednesday. Statewide, the National Guard has 13,350 members, 1,118 of whom are technicians subject to furlough.

"While the Minnesota National Guard is required by law to follow this Department of Defense furlough policy, it is important that the people of Minnesota know that our citizen soldiers and Airmen remain ready to respond in the event of a state or federal emergency," Lt. Col. Jon Lovald said in a statement.

Duluth's 148th Fighter Wing employs 241 federal technicians, 25 of them civilians. The wing has about 1,000 members and an annual economic impact of $80.9 million.

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Although most other federal departments have managed to avoid furloughs, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced May 14 that the Pentagon has concluded that it cannot make the necessary cuts without them. An estimated 652,000 Defense employees, about 85 percent of the department's civilian force, are receiving furlough notices nationwide.

The 20 percent cut in pay over the 11-week period will cause undue hardship for many defense workers, according to union representatives.

The Pentagon estimates the furloughs will save $1.8 billion. The 11 days are down from the 14 that the Pentagon had warned would be needed, and half of the 22 days originally forecast.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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