Reality bites

The Baltimore Sun

If members of Congress have any doubt about the need to quickly pass an economic stimulus package, here are some persuasive reasons:

(diamond) Unemployment increased by 500,000 jobs in December, bringing total jobs lost to 2.6 million since 2007. That's the largest annual job loss since World War II, and the unemployment rate of 7.2 percent is the highest in 18 years.

(diamond) Americans lost more than $8 trillion in the stock market and $6 trillion in housing wealth in 2008. Over the last year, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 34 percent of its value, and home sale prices declined nearly 20 percent through the third quarter, as measured by the S&P; Case Shiller national home price index.

(diamond) Retail sales dropped nearly 2 percent in December, and 2008 U.S. auto sales were down 18 percent from the previous year. In December alone, sales of American cars plunged 36 percent.

(diamond) Congressional Budget Office economists predicted last week that the unemployment rate will rise above 9 percent by early 2010 and stay high for years to come. Economic output, they said, will average 6.8 percent below its potential - that's $2.1 trillion in lost production and income for Americans.

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