HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Government-mandated furloughs of civilian Defense Department employees begin this week, and both Hill Air Force Base and the Top of Utah economy will be hit particularly hard.
Nearly 11,000 civilian employees at Hill will be off work for up to 11 unpaid furlough days from July 8 to Sept. 30 as the Pentagon deals with spending cuts for the rest of the fiscal year.
Nationwide, nearly 700,000 civilian Defense employees will be furloughed.
Base spokesman Rich Essary said the average salary of those being furloughed at Hill is approximately $67,500.
Assuming those employees have a typical work year of 260 days, the 11-day furlough period represents about a 4.3 percent reduction in overall pay. The 11,000 furloughed employees will have their collective total pay decreased by about $32 million.
Davis Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Smith said many Hill civilians live and spend their money in Davis County, and the sudden reduction in pay among them will surely dent the county's economy.
"Obviously, there are going to be significant financial impacts any time you take that kind of money out of the economy," he said.
"First, you have all those people at Hill who will be taking pay cuts, but then because of all the uncertainty that comes with that, there is a ripple effect that happens. There will be less money flowing into our local businesses. People won't be going out to eat or going to the movies as often as they used to."
Jeff Steagall, dean of Weber State University's John B. Goddard School of Business & Economics, said the "ripple effect" Smith speaks of is the reason the $32 million number doesn't tell the entire story of how the furloughs will impact the Top of Utah economy.
"The $32 million number is only the direct impact," he said. "But you will also have an economic multiplier effect. Everyone's income eventually becomes someone else's income."
Steagall said an economic multiplier of 1.7 would be appropriate when calculating the true impact of the base furloughs, resulting in another $22 million in indirect losses and bringing the total negative economic impact of the furloughs to about $54 million.
"That's not a small number," Steagall said, "especially once you consider it's mostly concentrated in one area. Most of the people that work at Hill live in the (Top of Utah) area."
Dave Hardman, president and CEO of the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce, said the civilians at Hill will likely scale back their discretionary spending once furloughs are implemented.
"People aren't likely to stop paying their light bill or their gas bill," he said.
"But they could put off that work they were planning at their home. And that means they won't be spending their money at Home Depot or Lowe's, so you can see how quickly the effects of something like this can accumulate."
But the economy isn't the only issue tied to the furloughs. Services on base will be cut back, and hours of operation will be limited.
Hill's West and South West entry gates will be closed every Friday throughout the furlough period. Mail delivery, the base Public Affairs Office and all base restaurants will be shut down each Friday as well.
Hill's Warrior Fitness Center, the Hill Aerospace Museum, indoor and outdoor pools, and the base commissary will all have reduced hours until the furlough period ends in September.
For a detailed list of closures and reduced service hours, visit www.hill.af.mil.
Since January, in response to sequestration, Hill has implemented a civilian hiring freeze of all "non-mission-critical" positions, halted all non-mission-critical travel, limited supply purchases and postponed all non-emergency facility maintenance.
The base has also adjusted its air conditioning set points from 72 to 76 degrees. The air conditioning will also be turned off a couple of weeks earlier than normal.
According to the base website, each day the air conditioning is turned off saves more than $12,000.
Although Defense furlough days will officially begin Monday, the first furlough day at Hill won't occur until Friday.