Working for the government is no longer secure

A once stable section of the American workforce is now taking a big hit.

The unemployment rate for June rose to 9.2 percent, the highest this year. Hidden among those jobless numbers is the news that among the ranks of government employees of all levels, 39,000 jobs were lost in June.

CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports that the status of public workers has changed, and that could have repercussions for everyone else.

When the emergency calls come in, it's hard for Matthew Bonnett to sit still.

"For right now I just kinda have sit on the sidelines," Bonnett says.

For nearly five years, Bonnett worked as a firefighter in Camden, New Jersey. In January, he was one of 60 to be laid off, which was one-third of the entire department.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm 36. I have a high school education. I thought I had a career and now I don't. We'll see what happens," Bonnett says.

Public sector jobs like Bonnett's were long considered among the most secure in hard times, but that's changing.

Since September of 2008, 464,000 local government jobs have been cut, and so far this year, nearly 100,000 have been eliminated. Larry burns is one more.

Four years ago, Burns took a job as a New York City employee, helping to maintain the grounds at a hospital.

"I was told this was a secure job. You'll have a future here. Just help us and we'll help you," Burns says.

Two days ago, Burns was called into human resources.

"They said, 'Here's your check. Don't come in tomorrow. We'll pay you for the day. That's the end of your career here.,'" Burns says.

Now, Burns is overwhelmed with worry about how he'll pay for the medical care his family needs and what job prospects exist for him at age 55.

"I'm trying to cope as best as I can. Take it one day at a time," Burns says.

Labor expert say there is no real relief in sight. As government stimulus money runs out and states try to close budget gaps, cuts in the budget sector will continue.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.