Employment in the armed forces and defense industries has dropped by nearly 450,000 since 1985 and an additional half-million jobs could be lost in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, says a congressional study.
One congressman said the employment losses make a case for moderation in defense budget cuts in the post Cold War-era."We must not cut too far, too fast," said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., who released the General Accounting Office study Tuesday. "Everyone loves a peace dividend, except for defense workers. For them, the peace dividend is a pink slip."
The GAO, Congress' investigative arm, said 6.4 million people were uniformed personnel, Defense Department civilian employees or workers in defense-related industries in fiscal 1985, the peak of the Reagan administration's military buildup. That year, the government authorized $376 billion in Pentagon spending.
By 1991, when military budget authority dropped to $309 billion, employment fell to 6.2 million. In the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, employment dropped an additional 234,000 jobs.
The study estimated military and defense-industry employment would fall to 5.5 million in fiscal 1993, a loss of 496,000 from 1992. In all, it said, employment will decline 943,000 from 1985, or a 15 percent drop.
Between 1985 and 1993, about 327,000 jobs will be lost from the uniformed military and 171,000 from the Defense Department's civilian work force. The other 400,000 will be stripped from primary defense contractors.
The administration, in its proposed 1993 defense budget, says it will achieve $42.1 billion in savings through 1997 by slowing or ending development of 10 advanced weapons programs.