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US Economy Experiences Worst Job Cuts in Decades


New government figures show a rise in U.S. unemployment last month, with U.S. employers cutting some 533,000 jobs - the most in 34 years. President George Bush says his administration is taking action to help strengthen the economy.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent in November.

President Bush told reporters the job data reflects the fact that the American economy is in a recession, due in large part to severe problems in housing, credit and financial markets.

He says his administration is taking steps to address the problems by extending unemployment benefits to the jobless, making credit more affordable and available, and taking action to prevent home foreclosures.

"It is going to take time for all the actions we have taken to have their full impact. But I am confident that the steps we are taking will help fix the problems in our economy, and return it to strength."

At a hearing on Capitol Hill, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Keith Hall, described the unemployment figures as dismal.

"There is very little in this report that is positive," he said. "This is maybe one of the worst jobs report the Bureau of Labor Statistics has ever produced."

"Families are conserving their dwindling resources and simply not buying much of anything, including durable goods, such as cars," said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who chaired the hearing before the Joint Economic Committee.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, executives from the three major automakers testified at a congressional hearing for the second straight day, making their case for $34 billion in loans to help shore up their industry, which has seen thousands of job losses.

President Bush urged Congress to act on a proposal that would redirect $25 billion in loans to help the automakers, but only to those that can survive.

Congress could vote on an aid package to the auto industry when it returns for a brief post-election session next week.

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