CAMDEN, N.J. --
Municipal layoffs affected about 335 city workers, representing one-sixth of the local government work force in Camden - already one of the nation's most impoverished and crime-ridden cities.
Layoffs struck hardest in the public safety departments, according to the Associated Press, where nearly half the police force and close to one-third of the city's firefighters were laid off.
"It's one of the worst days in the history of Camden," said Ken Chambers, president of the firefighters union, told the AP.
City officials blamed the cuts on unions, saying they have not been willing to make concessions. The mayor was reportedly willing to continue negotiations, to try to reach cost savings and bring back some of the laid-off workers.
The layoffs prompted fears of worsening conditions in Camden, the nation's second-most dangerous city based on 2009 data.
The Fire Department has already been relying on help from volunteer departments in neighboring towns, the AP reorted.