Measuring Arsenal's Impact As Furloughs Take Effect - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Measuring Arsenal's Impact As Furloughs Take Effect

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Employees at the Rock Island Arsenal began taking their sequestration furloughs Monday.

Over the next three months, employees across the island will lose a day of pay each week.

The American Federation of Government Employees Union says the furloughs will cost workers an average of $3,000 each.

With over six thousand employees, the union estimates $18 million in wages will be lost.

Think about the major employers in the Quad Cities.

Besides the Arsenal, we've got John Deere and Alcoa.

Hospitals and school districts, all with lots of employees, earning lots of paychecks.

All of those paychecks are measured by the government.

In 2001, the entire Quad Cities earned $10.5 billion.

In 2011, the latest numbers available the entire Quad Cities earned $16 billion.

During that ten year period, the Rock Island Arsenal's impact has gone up too.

"They're a John Deere type employer here, they're on par with each other and have a similar economic impact," says Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce Vice President Paul Rumler.

He says the Arsenal has long had a major impact on the Quad Cities. That's why the chamber fights hard to defend the Arsenal from BRAC's and sequestration.

"It isn't just about their families, it's about all of our families because we all are a community and the economy works by purchasing goods and services."

The Arsenal employees can purchase a lot. The 8,700 federal military and civilian employees earned $952 million. Nearly six percent of the entire Quad Cities paychecks.

"That's not chump change when it comes to impacting a local economy, if something happens to that six percent, you'll notice it."

The chamber wants to keep that six percent from changing. It's fighting to keep more furloughs from occurring if they're needed as part of next years federal spending cuts. It provides outreach through the Hooah Quad Cities effort to support soldiers and civilians. Rumler says we need to avoid taking the Arsenal for granted.

"It's important to understand the roots of John Deere, or how we make the Mississippi river our home, it's one of those must dos in the Quad Cities is to understand the importance."

As we wait to see what happens when $18 million stops flowing through the economy.

Lawmakers in both states expressed their disappointment with Monday's furloughs taking effect.