Nicole Lyons gave up.
After she was laid off from her job teaching at a public elementary school she bounced through longer-term substitute postings and held a part-time job, all the while hoping she would land a permanent placement.
"In 2012, after two years working as a sub and continuing to see layoffs, I was like, 'I can't work 50 hours a week one more year,"' said the Los Angeles resident. "I want a full-time job. I want my benefits back."
Even her mother, a former school principal who told Lyons she was destined to teach, agreed with her recent decision to become a paralegal.
"She said: You know what? At this point, you're right, it's not going to get better," Lyons said.
Indeed, as the latest data shows momentum gathering in U.S. private-sector employment and overall unemployment dropping to a four-year low of 7.7 percent, government jobs - education positions in particular - are still disappearing as local government budgets remain pressured by the residual effects of the housing crisis and recession.
Since the peak in local public school employment in July 2008, about 361,000 jobs in the sector have been eliminated, roughly half of the 725,000 government jobs lost overall in the same period, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. The losses are continuing, with 4,500 local government education jobs shed in the first two months of this year compared with 412,000 private-sector jobs created.
"When we looked at private-sector job loss, at first we were losing jobs, then we were losing jobs less fast, then we were adding jobs," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
The public sector is only now "starting that second step."