Original source: With today’s unemployment report showing nearly 600,000 jobs lost in January—worsening the U.S. unemployment rate from 7.2 percent to 7.6 percent—will obstructionist Republicans in Congress finally move the economic recovery bill?

From Bloomberg:

“Last month’s losses mark the first time since records began in 1939 that job cuts exceeded half a million in three consecutive months.”

While the official unemployment rate of 7.6 percent is really bad, the unofficial rate—which includes underemployed workers and those who have become too discouraged to look for work—is 13.8 percent. Some 21.5 million workers are either unemployed, working part time for economic reasons or dropping out of the labor force because they can’t find work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that service industries, which include banks, insurance companies, restaurants and retailers, lost 279,000 jobs. Retail payrolls decreased by 45,100, after a decline of 82,700 in December. Financial firms reduced payrolls by 42,000, after a 27,000 decrease the prior month.

At bottom, the problem is simple: There are far fewer jobs than workers. An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute shows there is one job for every four workers. That means jobs need to be created. And that means Congress has to act immediately to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will create or save 3 million jobs.

The jobs report shows the U.S. economy has shed 3.6 million jobs since the start of the recession in December 2007, with almost half of them lost in the last three months. EPI economist Heidi Shierholz puts that figure in perspective:

Since the start of the recession, the U.S. economy has shed more jobs than the total population of Chicago.

How bad do the job numbers have to get before many Republicans in Congress stop holding up the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act? They seem to have forgotten that the America people voted them out of office—big time—because the public wants what Republicans oppose: fundamentally sound programs like job training.

No joke. The Republican mouthpiece, The National Review, is blasting the $4 billion in the recovery program for job training, calling it an “outrage.” (Other items in the recovery package the magazine highlights as “outrages” are Pell Grants for college—higher education should only be for those wealthy enough to afford it, after all—and federal child care block grants because, well, just because children don’t deserve care. Or something like that. Can’t quite get into a mindset that cuts programs for kids.)

President Obama warned this week that

a failure to act and to act now will turn crisis into catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession.

He’s right. Republicans in Congress need to stop playing games and pass the recovery act to get America back to work

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