photo: steve burns
For Steve Burns, the shock of being laid off was compounded by the fact that he had been at his previous job at an insurance company for 28 years.

"I got called into the office and they said we eliminated your position," he says. "They walked me to my locker like I was a criminal. I was too shocked to be upset."

Burns began looking for work. His age he says - he is currently 54 -put him at a disadvantage. "I thought I'd retire from my old job," he says. "I was too old to start this all over again."

Burns found some part time work driving a truck but as the father of two kids he needed a steady, full time job. "I was looking for a full time job for two years," he says. "There was nothing out there."

Then he heard about the $10.2 million stimulus project to upgrade the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line.

He interviewed for a job as a track man on the railroad and he soon found out he got it.

"It was like hitting the lottery," he says. "I'm very happy."