Public sector workers enter the Modesto job hunt

There was a time when landing a government job meant being set until retirement and a gold watch.

While the private sector lead the way slashing jobs in this recession, the public sector is catching up with its own waves of staff cuts. For those laid-off workers, re-entering the job market can be tricky.

From June 2009 to June 2010, the county lost some 400 government jobs. Next month's unemployment numbers are expected to show more because many layoffs became final at the start of the fiscal year in July.

Among those was Dana McGarry, the former director of planning and research for Modesto City Schools. Her position was eliminated in February because of budget cuts, and her last day was June 30.

McGarry has spent more than a dozen years working in the public sector, for 10 years as a planner for the city of Turlock and then three with Modesto City Schools. The 47-year-old Turlock mother of two is her family's sole bread winner. Her husband stopped working a few years ago to take care of a sick family member and is having trouble restarting his handyman business.

Now, as she starts looking for work, the prospects are daunting.

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