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'Sequester' scare tactics? White House details 'devastating' 50-state impact. (+video)

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By contrast, some states would see much larger defense-related impact from the sequester, either because they have lots of civilian defense workers (Virginia, Maryland) or lots of military operations (Hawaii, Alaska) or lots of defense contractors (Washington, Connecticut) relative to their overall population.

The sequester would also affect a host of non-defense federal activities across the 50 states. Those, also, would be somewhat unevenly dispersed among states. But only in Maryland, Virginia, and New Mexico does non-defense federal spending account for more than 5 percent of economic output, according to research by forecasters at the banking firm Wells Fargo.

What that means: For the vast majority of states, an expected 5 percent cut in non-defense federal spending would represent only a minor setback, equal to about one tenth of 1 percent or less of the state's economic activity.

"The process of budget sequestration will harm certain states disproportionally," the economists at Wells Fargo concluded in their analysis, released last week. "In general, the greater Washington, D.C., area and southern states will be the hardest hit, while states in the Midwest and along the West Coast will likely be impacted to a lesser extent."

The spending cuts would have significant effects on people and employers who are directly affected. If the sequester kicks in, that would include everyone from defense contractors to university scientists and the poor.

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