Public employees feel recession's pinch

The math is not good for the unemployed, with some 14 million Americans looking for work the Labor Department reported Tuesday there were only three million job openings in May. In Cleveland, CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports it's so bad the police recruits were fired the very day they were supposed to hit the streets.

The majesty of the moment was not lost on these Cleveland police academy graduates. Many have waited a long time, like 32-year-old Robby Prock. The father of two left a steady job in the salt mines to live his dream.

At the ceremony, the graduates were declared Cleveland police officers. But the joy did not last long.

Less than an hour after they got their guns and badges, the 42 male and female graduates had to give them back. They were immediately laid off because the city can't afford to pay them.

"It's like we just rented it for a little while," said Prock.

The now-unemployed rookie felt like he had just been stepped on.

"You're full of joy that you finally got in," Prock said, "and everything's going good. And then all of the sudden, it just gets ripped away from you."

So far this year, Cleveland has laid off 321 employees to close a $35 million budget hole. And this city's not alone -- more than 460,000 state and local government jobs have been lost since June 2009.

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In the past, hiring by cities and states helped fuel economic recoveries. But not this time. The Great Recession devastated tax revenues and local government still have not recovered enough to pay their bills -- and hire new workers.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson worried about the long-term costs.

"I don't necessarily believe that just hiring a bunch of public employees would get us out of the recession," he said. "But I do believe that laying off a bunch of them will help make the recession worse."

It could be at least a two-year wait for these rookies to get a chance to walk the beat.

"We were all prepared to go hit the streets and try to help people out," said Prock, "and make Cleveland a better place."

However, he shakes head. "But it's not going to work out that way this time."

For Prock's family and millions more, the recession lingers. Experts fear the public sector could continue to shed up to 30,000 jobs a month into next year.