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Defense Workers’ Furlough Days Cut From 11 To 6 Days, AP Says

Civilian workers for the Department of Defense will have to take six mandatory unpaid furlough days, according to an Associated Press report that cites Pentagon officials.

"Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved the final numbers this week after meeting with top leaders," the AP reports. "Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The decision comes as about 650,000 civilian workers began their fifth week of furloughs."

Earlier this year, Pentagon workers were told they could face up to 22 furlough days because of budget cuts. Defense employees began taking furlough days on July 8.

News of a possible change to the cuts has circulated since late July, when the AP reported that the eased furloughs were possible if budget chiefs could find hundreds of millions of dollars in savings.

The furloughs have brought pay cuts, stress, and even attempts at humor from the workers.

News of the possible reduction was welcomed by many on the How I Spent My Furlough Day Facebook page Tuesday. But several employees also admitted to being frustrated and unsettled by the stream of changes to the Pentagon's plan.

One worker said that the changes had foiled her hopes of avoiding taking medical leave; and another noted that her furlough days will stop right before her children were finally about to get back in school.

Last month, Morning Edition reported on defense workers who participated in the Federal Furlough Five-Mile Fun Run for Freedom, an event organized by the creators of the How I Spent My Furlough Day page.

In keeping with the furlough spirit, the race stopped 20 percent short of the advertised finish line.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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