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Budget Uncertainty Leads to Layoffs at Argonne National Laboratory

The Lemont-based Argonne National Laboratory plans to eliminate 50 positions at the start of 2014 as budget uncertainty has the non-profit research lab scaling back. 

Argonne spokesman Steve McGregor said in an email that 70 employees took a voluntary buyout, but that was short of the 120 positions Argonne aimed to reduce from its 3,500 employees. 

"In an environment of budget uncertainty, Argonne decided to make strategic cuts to protect its ability to deliver on its mission-driven research," McGregor said.

The amount of money saved by Argonne will not be known until the positions to be eliminated are identified. McGregor said a review of scientific and technological programs is underway. The number of positions to be eliminated is about 1.4 percent of Argonne's workforce. 

"Argonne will continue to call for robust, sustained research funding not tied to short-term fiscal goals," he said. "Science research is a major engine of American competitiveness and innovation, yet less than 1 percent of the federal budget goes to fund basic science research. More than half of the GDP growth over the past 50 years stems from scientific discovery and technological innovation."

About 90 percent of Argonne's $786 million budget comes from the federal government. According to previous reports from Crain's Chicago Business, the U.S. House failed to approve an attempt to restore about $50 million in cuts to Argonne and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia.

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