Explaining Southern California's economy

Antelope Valley business cuts hours to survive sequestration

Aerowire Velma Searcy

Brian Watt/KPCC

Velma Searcy started Aerowire 2 years ago after 30 years of work as an aerospace engineer

The federal spending cuts known as sequestration are being felt in different ways in different places.

Take Antelope Valley, Calif.-based Aerowire.

It builds electrical harnesses for clients, including Lockheed and NASA.  The year began with Aerowire employing a dozen workers, but that number figured to grow because the company was close to scoring two defense contracts worth about $1.5 million.  

But with sequestration hitting the defense budget, those contracts are on ice—and only enough work for eight full-time employees is trickling in.

Aerowire founder Velma Searcy has asked the other four workers to work part-time, on-call.

"Right now, I'm trying to keep them employed," said Searcy. "These are real skilled people that I wouldn't want to lose."

She recently moved the business from Lancaster to Palmdale. If those big contracts ever come through, Searcy would have enough work to double the size of her staff.   

"If I have little bits of work here and there, I'll have them come in for a few hours a day," said Searcy, adding that on some days the part-timers don't come in at all. 

She said that's the only way she can avoid laying them off.

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