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Labor Secretary Addresses Grim Jobs News

(AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Secretary Of Labor Hilda Solis has put out a statement on today's grim news that employers cut 651,000 jobs in February, helping push the U.S. unemployment rate to 8.1 percent.

In it, she announces that the Labor Department is making more than 3.5 billion dollars available to states for services related to education, training and reemployment. As she points out, the economic stimulus package passed last month provides funding to increase unemployment insurance benefits and extend the duration of unemployment insurance.

"4.4 million Americans have now lost their jobs since this recession began last year, and there are now nearly 3 million Americans who have been unemployed for six months or more," she notes in the statement.

"This data does not just represent abstract statistics," Solis said. "Rather it illustrates the struggles of millions of Americans who do not know how they will raise their families, or pay their bills and mortgages. They are the central focus of this Administration's economic policies, and why we are moving swiftly and aggressively to jumpstart job creation and grow our economy."

"We will continue to do whatever is necessary to break the destructive cycle of job loss in this country and put Americans back to work," Solis continued, noting plans to encourage lending, help struggling homeowners, and address health care costs, U.S. dependence on oil, and education.

"From the day this Administration began, we knew that solving the economic crisis we were presented with would not be easy and would not happen overnight," she concludes. "But the President and I believe that this nation has both the resources and the will to meet this challenge and emerge stronger and more prosperous than before."

In an interview to be broadcast this afternoon on's "Washington Unplugged," Christina Romer, the head of President Obama's economic council, said the president has been honest with the American people about the economic situation. Today's news, she said, was "basically what we were expecting."

"We have a plan in place and we fully expect to turn this economy around," she said. Still, she acknowledged, "Unfortunately, we are seeing it getting worse." (The full interview will air at around 2 PM ET.)

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