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Public Sector Joins Businesses In Feeling Layoff Pain

Public sector jobs are increasingly on the chopping block as cities and states look for ways to make up for looming budget deficits, with New York's city government the latest to warn of layoffs.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday he may have to cut 23,000 jobs from the city's workforce to close a $4 billion budget gap. Meanwhile, California is carrying on with plans to furlough 238,000 workers to fend off what could become a $42 billion deficit.

Unveiling his preliminary budget for the 2010 fiscal year, Bloomberg said he is bracing for a $5 billion reduction in revenues from personal income, sales, business and real estate taxes from fiscal 2008 levels.

"Since November, when we updated the city's financial plan, economic conditions have continued to worsen, with tax revenues continuing to sharply decline," he said.

New York's financial district took a big hit last year, racking up about $47 billion in losses and laying off tens of thousands of workers. The mayor's office said the city is expected to lose 294,000 jobs from mid-2008 through the end of next year.

To make up the projected deficit, as many as 14,000 teachers may lose their jobs, Bloomberg said. He is also proposing cuts in other city departments and has asked the state and federal governments and labor unions to assist in balancing the budget.

"We're not walking away from our school system, but would you like to cut the entire police department to pay for it?" Bloomberg asked.

The mayor has asked the state for more money to fund education in an effort to avoid the layoffs. He has also proposed increasing the city's sales tax by about a quarter of 1 percent.

In California, state officials balked at implementing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's mandate that state employees take two days off without pay each month, but on Thursday a judge sided with the governor. Beginning Feb. 6, all 238,000 state employees must take two days off without pay each month.

Other states are feeling the pinch, too. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has proposed laying off 700 state workers to deal with a $2 billion shortfall; Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell recently said up to 2,000 positions may be eliminated to fill a $2.3 billion gap.

Public sector job cuts also have been announced in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Vermont, among other states.

With NPR's Robert Smith and from wire service reports

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