If so then why would the government need to furlough anyone?
Government employment contracts include mandatory cost-of-living raises. Also, some of the year-to-year increase in spending will go to things other than federal salaries. For example, most Medicaid spending is spent by the states. Similarly, education spending tends to go to students (grants and student loans) or to schools. A significant amount of defense spending is on new equipment. All parts of government have to buy supplies, pay rent, etc.
The simple answer is that furloughs are less painful than other ways to save money. They could cut costs elsewhere, but they'd rather furlough. And of course, the initial estimates will exaggerate the furloughs, as sequester opponents would like to keep it from happening. Note that the people doing the estimating are government employees and subject to the reduced budgets.
So even though the sequester only restricts the rate of growth and does not provide a cut from one year to the next, it still restricts budgets in ways that are likely to lead to furloughs.