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The employment number with a 7.6% unemplouyment rate and a plunge of 598,000 in payrolls is even worse than it appears. For one thing, the broadest measure of unemployment, including marginally employed workers, jumped to 13.9%. And government statisticians revised their previous unemployment numbers for 2008, saying that 385,000 more jobs were lost than initially estimated, bringing the total job loss to 3.6 million.

Washington had better get its act together on the fiscal stimulus package. There is no reason to believe that this month is any better than last. The jobs data shows that the downward trend is gaining momentum. We’re now not all that far from the depths of the 1981-82 downturn.

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