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Budget cuts mean Furlough Friday at four federal agencies

A federal employee holds up a sign protesting the effects of sequestration and the practice of furloughs at a gathering in New York, May 7,
A federal employee holds up a sign protesting the effects of sequestration and the practice of furloughs at a gathering in New York, May 7,

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Across-the-board budget cuts have created Furlough Friday in Washington and elsewhere, as the one-day closing of four federal agencies forced an unpaid day off for 115,000 workers.

Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Internal Revenue Service and the Office of Management and Budget stayed home on Friday.

The furlough affects about 5 percent of the federal workforce, according to Cory Bythrow, communications director at the National Federation of Federal Employees, a union representing government workers. Bythrow tracks workplace fallout from the budget cuts, known as sequestration.

Eighty-five percent of the workers who were furloughed on Friday are based outside Washington, Bythrow said by telephone. They include union and non-union employees, depending largely on where they are, he said.

The furloughs come as the United States heads into a holiday weekend, with Memorial Day celebrated on Monday, when government offices will be closed.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Friday found 37 percent of Americans feel sequestration has hurt them personally, up from 25 percent in March. About half of those affected say the harm to them has been "major."

(Reporting by Deborah Zabarenko; Editing by Eric Beech)

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