Friday, February 6, 2009

"Devastating" Unemployment Numbers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that the nation's unemployment rate rose to 7.6% last month from 7.2% in December. In the last month alone, businesses have cut 598,000 jobs from their payrolls. In response to the report, President Obama this morning again called for swift passage of the recovery plan currently being debated in the Senate:

If there is anyone, anywhere, who doubts the need for wise counsel and bold and immediate action, consider the devastating news we just received this morning.

Last month, another six hundred thousand Americans lost their jobs. That is the single worst month of job loss in 35 years. The Department of Labor also adjusted their job loss numbers for 2008 upwards, and now report that we have lost 3.6 million jobs since this recession began.

That’s 3.6 million Americans who wake up every day wondering how they are going to pay their bills, stay in their homes, and provide for their children. That’s 3.6 million Americans who need our help.

I am sure that at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, members of the Senate are reading these same numbers this morning. I hope they share my sense of urgency and draw the same, unmistakable conclusion: the situation could not be more serious. These numbers demand action. It is inexcusable and irresponsible to get bogged down in distraction and delay while millions of Americans are being put out of work. It is time for Congress to act. It is time to pass an Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to get our economy moving again.

Christina Romer, who heads the President's Council of Economic Advisers, also released a statement regarding the new employment figures:

Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the latest evidence that the U.S. economy is contracting greatly. Payroll employment declined by 598,000 in January, bringing the total job loss since the recession began in December 2007 to 3.6 million. This is the largest 13-month job loss since the payroll employment series began in 1939. The unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6%, bringing the number of unemployed Americans to 11.6 million.

These numbers, and the very real suffering of American workers they represent, reinforce the need for bold fiscal action. If we fail to act, we are likely to lose millions more jobs and the unemployment rate could reach double digits. Prompt, well-designed fiscal policy is necessary to stop the decline and heal the economy. The American people are counting on leadership from Washington to help the economy recover and lay the long-term foundation for long-term economic growth.

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