Despite dire warnings, sequester "calamity"-free so far

Back in February, President Obama warned that if the sequester cuts totaling around $85 billion this year went into effect, "All our economic progress could be put at risk."

A month into the sequester, however, that doesn't seem to be the case: Home prices are rising, and the private sector is still slowly adding jobs.

That doesn't mean the across-the-board spending cuts, which will amount to nearly $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years unless Congress diverts them, aren't having a negative impact. Stories of the sequester's effect are easily found in all corners of the country -- researchers in North Carolina have lost their jobs, Georgia's tourism sector has taken a hit, and Meals on Wheels (the program that brings meals to the elderly) has been cut in Maine.

The widespread economic constriction that some predicted has yet to take effect for various reasons. To start with, Congress reduced the level of cuts that will take place this year when they delayed the start of the sequestration. Congress also gave federal agencies some flexibility over how to implement the cuts, allowing them to mitigate the impacts. But while the impact of the sequester may be disparate and localized at this point, it will eventually take some toll on the overall economy.

"The full impacts of cuts this year won't be felt this year, but they'll be felt and will be measurable sometime in the future," Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, told

Fuller produced a report last year, funded by the Aerospace Industries Association, that predicted the sequester would result in 2.14 million jobs lost by the end of 2013. He released an updated report last month that took into account the fact that Congress delayed the sequester's implementation by two months and reduced this year's spending cuts. This new report predicts the sequester will result in 1.58 million jobs lost this year, or the equivalent of a one percent bump in the nation's unemployment rate. It also predicts the sequester will knock one point (or $158.2 billion) off the nation's Gross Domestic Product.

"The cutbacks are still real, they'll be identifiable," Fuller said. "But I don't think they'll be as noticeable to John Doe Citizen. They'll be spread out and more likely absorbed within the expanding economy."

Some of this year's cuts, Fuller said, won't have an impact until next year, once new government contracts are affected. Furthermore, now that agencies are actually implementing the cuts, they're taking different strategies than anticipated -- such as furloughing workers and freezing hiring rather than laying people off. These factors may make the sequester seem less disastrous than some expected.

Some smaller agencies, like the Federal Trade Commission, have been able to avoid furloughs all together.