New York's governor unveiled a plan Saturday to lay off or furlough thousands of state workers, and talk of substantial layoffs is intensifying in several other northeastern states.

Across the nation, officials are trying hiring freezes and budget manipulations to avoid letting people go. But as the economy continues to soften, many expect state layoffs to become a common news item."Everyone is preparing for it," said Linda Carroll of the Council of State Governments.

Marcia Howard, research director for the National Association of State Budget Officers, said half of the states are experiencing a decline in tax revenues, a barometer of a weakening economy.

As the states collect less money than expected, budget deficits grow, leaving state executives with the prospect of layoffs.

"This is the third year for many states that have had to make budget cuts and even raised taxes," Howard said. "They are really to the point where all they can do is cut people."

In states with major deficits, stopgap measures like early retirement programs and hiring freezes aren't enough.