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Jul 5, 2013 5:06 PM by Eric Ross

Furloughs begin for Defense Department civilians

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 650,000 civilian Defense Department workers will begin taking the first of their 11 unpaid days off next week.

The salary cut they will see in the three months may pale compared to what officials worry could be larger scale layoffs next year.

The Pentagon says roughly 85 percent of the department's nearly 900,000 civilians around the world will be furloughed. But while defense officials have been able to shift money around to limit the furloughs this year, there are widespread worries that if automatic budget cuts go forward for 2014, thousands of civilian, military and contract jobs could be on the chopping block.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to provide more details next week on how the next wave of across-the-board budget cuts will affect the department.

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