President Barack Obama said his economic recovery package is urgently needed to combat massive job losses in the United States.
2008 saw America's steepest job losses in the post-World War II era. So far, 2009 is not shaping up any better.
Some of America's biggest corporate names, including Microsoft, Caterpillar, and General Motors, announced new rounds of job cuts, providing additional upward momentum to a U.S. unemployment rate that has already jumped two percentage points during the past year.
The latest job losses did not go unnoticed by President Barack Obama.
"These are not just numbers on a page. As with the millions of jobs lost in 2008, these are working men and women whose families have been disrupted and whose dreams have been put on hold," he said.
Mr. Obama is urging swift congressional passage of an $825 billion economic package designed to lift the United States out of recession and lay a foundation for sustained growth. The plan calls for tax cuts for middle income earners and small businesses, as well as new federal spending on infrastructure projects, alternative energy initiatives, and other measures.
Republicans have grown increasingly vocal in their criticism of the package, saying it is laden with wasteful spending. But the president said the plan makes important investments and must not be delayed.
"I look forward to signing an American recovery and reinvestment plan that will put millions of Americans to work and lay the foundation for stable growth that our economy needs and our people demand. These are extraordinary times and call for swift and extraordinary action," said the president.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure later this week. Senate consideration will follow.
President Obama is not the only one perplexed by the latest job cuts.
"This avalanche of job cut announcements just continues. These companies see a much weaker global economic picture," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group .
On a positive note, sales of existing homes rose in the United States last month, as falling housing prices attracted buyers in some regions hardest hit by America's housing slump. A rash of U.S. home foreclosures is blamed for a severe credit squeeze that sent the U.S. economy into a tailspin last year and quickly spread around the world.