Economic Free Fall Accelerates, Data Show

Publication: Washington Post

Author: Annys Shin and Ylan Q. Mui

02/13/2009 - With Congress preparing to vote on a $789 billion stimulus package, government data yesterday showed that the number of people relying on unemployment benefits has surged to a record 4.8 million.

Revenue has declined for many businesses, and as a result, "companies don't have the cash to keep workers on their payrolls even if they want to keep them," said Mark Vitner, Wachovia's senior economist.

The alarming pace of job losses has put pressure on lawmakers to quickly pass a stimulus bill that includes billions of dollars in infrastructure spending. President Obama stumped for the package yesterday at a factory in Peoria, Ill., operated by heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, which recently cut nearly 20,000 jobs.

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Anxiety among consumers has intensified along with the economic crisis. More than 80 percent of Americans report having cut back on spending or changed their saving or investment patterns lately, mainly because of worries about the possibility of future financial problems rather than because of actual financial hardships, according to a national survey released yesterday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Read the full article Economic Free Fall Accelerates, Data Show on the Washington Post's Web site.

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