Trade group sees loss of 50,000 small-business jobs in Md.

A trade group predicted Thursday that Maryland would lose just over 50,000 small-business jobs in the early stages of automatic federal budget cuts — the fifth-largest reduction in the country.

The report from the Aerospace Industries Association, whose membership includes defense-contracting powerhouses, predicted that about 18,800 of the jobs would be lost as a result of defense cuts and 31,400 would ripple out from other agencies' reductions.

Economist Stephen Fuller of George Mason University, who produced the report for the group, expects those cuts in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 — though some contractors are already cutting back in preparation. The so-called sequestration cuts of $109 billion annually for nine years are set to begin Jan. 2.

The forecast comes two months after the group predicted that sequestration would eliminate about 115,000 jobs of all sorts in Maryland next fiscal year, also one of the largest reductions in the country. The state is awash in businesses that sell products and services to the federal government, as well as companies that benefit from spending by federal workers and contractors.

The reports are part of defense contractors' effort to get Congress to squelch sequestration. The study is featured on the industry's site, which urges leaders to "Stop The Clock" counting down to Jan. 2.

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