The economy lost 17,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported on Friday, the first monthly decline in four years and the most striking evidence yet that the United States may be slipping into a recession.
The January employment report cast the job market in a startlingly darker light. Jobs disappeared across a broad spectrum of professions, with the steepest losses coming in the manufacturing, construction and goods-producing industries.
Adding to the gloom, the government said that the level of employment was sharply lower in December than it had originally estimated. The new figure was based on an annual review of every job covered by unemployment insurance, nytimes.com reports.
The president says consumer spending is still strong and core inflation is low, but home values are declining and gasoline and food prices are rising.
Mr. Bush warned opposition Democrats in Congress against raising taxes, saying that is the worst thing lawmakers could do. But he did urge them to pass legislation that could help more Americans refinance their homes.
"When Congress comes back, I look forward to working with them to deal with the economic realities of the moment and to ensure the American people that we will do everything we can to make sure we remain a prosperous country," he added.
The ongoing financial crisis over adjustable-rate mortgages continues to affect the overall economy and not just home sales. There has been a cut in jobs in the building industry and the Labor Department report also shows a drop in factory jobs.
President Bush is considering an economic stimulus package that could include more tax cuts. In a Thursday interview with the Reuters news service, Mr. Bush said he and his economic team are considering all their options and he probably will not decide whether to act until his State of the Union Address later this month.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer is urging the president to take action to avoid what the lawmaker says could be the economy tumbling into recession.