Just as state and local governments complete an agonizing round of large-scale layoffs of public employees, many budget directors are predicting that with the economy still faltering and revenue declining, a whole new wave of layoffs may be necessary.
"I think it's going to be a really tough year," said Marcia A. Howard, research director of the National Association of State Budget Directors.
"Most state budgets were based on the premise that a recovery would be well under way by now, and if it is, it certainly hasn't helped state revenues yet."
State and local employment has declined by 84,000 workers since July, the start of the fiscal year for nearly all states, the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in early October. It was the first time in 10 years that state and local employment decreased for three months in a row.
Maryland is not the only state in the midst of layoffs caused by severe budget crunches. The drumroll of layoffs is constant:
Connecticut laid off 2,500 workers last month and Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. is threatening to lay off another 7,500 unless unions provide more concessions.
Massachusetts is laying off 4,000; Ohio is laying off 1,000 and Maine 200.
New York State, completing a 12-month work-force reduction of 18,000 through layoffs and attrition, is laying off 1,300 this year.
New Jersey has laid off 5,000 and is considering laying off another 5,000 while California plans to lay off 3,000 in January.
Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon of Washington has sent termination notices to 126 middle-management employees, as part of her campaign promise to sharply reduce the district's 48,000 employees.
The striking three-month decline in state and local government employment -- an 84,000-worker drop to 15,401,000 -- was still smaller than the 153,000 decline in state and local employment in the single month of July 1982, the start of the fiscal year after the last recession.
At the state level this year, the decline was steepest in July, when the work force shrank by 21,000 workers. It declined another 6,000 in both August and September.
According to the new Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, local governments are laying off workers even faster that state governments.