The Pentagon, which is located in Northern Virginia, spends a much larger chunk of its budget in Virginia than it does in Maryland.

Why, then, did the Council on Economic Priorities conclude that job losses in Maryland looked more serious?

Examining the array of defense programs in Maryland and Virginia, the author of the study, economist John Tepper Marlin, concluded that the ones in Virginia were less likely to be canceled than those in Maryland.

A vast majority of the Pentagon dollars going to Virginia are for shipbuilding programs in the Newport News and Virginia Beach area. The CEP study assumes those programs will avoid the budget ax.

That assumption, however, is challenged by some industry observers who predict that the Pentagon will drop Newport News Shipbuilding as a supplier of the SSN-21 Seawolf attack submarine and consolidate production at the General Dynamics Electric Boat Division in Groton, Conn.

The Pentagon has declined to comment on speculation that such a move is being contemplated, saying the Navy's future ship program is under review and it's too early to make any decisions about shipbuilding needs.

If such a move were to occur, however, it would not only affect Newport News Shipbuilding but also the many other Virginia companies that support the work on the Seawolf.

In addition to uncertainty over Pentagon budget cuts, analysts say there is also uncertainty over how the cuts will translate into layoffs. Calculations of the number of jobs lost from budget cuts are rough estimates based on averages in an industry where some programs are extremely labor-intensive and others are highly automated.

Marlin figures that for every $1 billion in defense budget cuts, the United States will lose 25,000 defense jobs. Other groups use similar numbers, with figures ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 jobs lost for every $1 billion cut.