The article “Defense cuts due to hit Mass. economy hard” (Business, June 26) cites a study that claims that the state could lose up to 30,000 jobs if budget sequestration takes effect in 2013. The story misses a crucial point: What is the alternative? If budget cuts must be made at the federal level, they will come from defense or social programs. While cutting defense would certainly entail job losses in Massachusetts, cutting those funds from other areas would be even worse.
A 2012 study by the Political Economy Research Institute at UMass Amherst, of which I am co-author, shows that $1 billion of federal spending supports about 8,400 defense-related jobs in the state. Spending that same amount on health care supports more than 13,300 jobs, and in education, 18,600 jobs. Cutting funding for education or health care would be much worse for Bay State families.
Even if sequestration is triggered in January, the effects of the cuts would not be felt immediately, and firms will have time to adjust. And Massachusetts may not fare all that badly: As the reporter rightly notes, the researcher said that “the Pentagon plans to keep investing heavily in advanced technologies like unmanned aircraft, robotics, and network security software, areas where Bay State companies are strong.”
The writer is an assistant research professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.