Nightly News   |  February 27, 2013

Sequester defense cuts to impact thousands in Alabama

If lawmakers cannot find a way to avoid the sequester, thousands of workers at the Anniston Army Depot and Redstone Arsenal in Alabama will take a pay cut. The effect would be particularly devastating in Huntsville, Ala., because the local economy is so dependent on Redstone. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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>>> in the meantime, and beyond the dire hype, these cuts are going to have real-life effects on the daily lives of a lot of americans, including civilian defense employees. they're rapidly losing patience, and our pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski has our report from huntsville , alabama.

>> reporter: for now, the tank and armored vehicle repair lines at the army depot in alabama are humming. but the line workers are fuming.

>> it's affecting me mentally. it's stressing me out. i'm a single parent. and i'm the sole provider for them. so it's going to be hard.

>> reporter: the army predicts that depot's budget will be cut by $710 million, more than 3,000 civilian defense workers would take a 20% pay cut. 370 temporaries would lose their jobs.

>> i can't pay my bills, i lose my house, i have to get a second job to try to pay for my stuff that i've already acquired.

>> at red stone arsenal in huntsville , nearly 21,000 government workers will also take a pay cut. 16,000 private contractors could face cutbacks. dope cuts to redstone would be devastating to the city of huntsville .

>> it clearly has an impact on the local economy . red stone arsenal is the primary economic engine for north alabama .

>> reporter: huntsville mayor, tommy battle, says the political squabbling and uncertainty in washington has already brought the city's economy to a screeching halt.

>> we've got businesses that don't spend money, businesses that are not hiring. businesses that aren't planning for the future, because they don't know what the government is going to do.

>> reporter: but the cuts go even deeper. at phoenix services, many physically or mentally disabled produce harnesses for army parachutes and burial flags for military funerals. there are 550 nonprofits like phoenix that employ more than 130,000 seriously disabled workers. as government contractors, many of those jobs are at risk. but ceo brian doddson says each of these jobs saves thousands in public assistance.

>> and so for taxpayers, eliminating our jobs is going to cost them money.

>> reporter: but for these workers, it's not just about the paycheck. it's about the job. jim miklaszewski , nbc news, huntsville .