Furloughs Freeze State Services

Strapped states try to balance budgets by shutting down
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2009 1:31 AM CDT
Security guard Suresh Sonpaki walks in front of the doors of a closed Department of Motor Vehicles office in San Francisco. California's DMV offices now close three Fridays a month.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) – States across the country are slashing their labor costs by putting workers on furloughs and cutting services, the Wall Street Journal reports. California, Maine, Maryland and Michigan close state agencies on Fridays. Others are opting to remain open every weekday, but stretch services by placing thousands of workers on rolling furloughs, causing massive queues and delays at government offices.

Furloughs—which effectively function as a pay cut for state workers—are catching on with state governments seeking an alternative to slashing jobs. Unions have battled the move in some states but have reluctantly accepted them as the only alternative to layoffs in others. Analysts warn, however, that while the furloughs might work as a quick fix for states facing budget shortfalls, they are no solution to long-term budget woes like soaring pension costs.