62,000 Jobs Lost in June, Jobless Rate 5.5%; Obama and McCain React

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The Labor Department reported this morning the economy shed 62,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent. A total of 8.5 million Americans are now jobless and last week 16,000 Americans filed applications for first-time jobless benefits. The number of those recently laid off and now seeking new benefits was 404,000 in June, the highest total since March.

John McCain's campaign released this statement at 9:05 a.m. EDT:

"Americans across this country are hurting and today's job numbers are just the latest indication. From rising gas prices to home foreclosures, families are struggling to meet economic challenges that become greater every day. Washington can no longer abdicate its responsibility to act. Our focus must be clear: enact policies to create jobs today.

"To get our economy back on track, we must enact a jobs-first economic plan that supports job creation, provide immediate tax relief for families, enact a plan to help those facing foreclosure, lower health care costs, invest in innovation, move toward strategic energy independence and open more foreign markets to our goods.

"The American people cannot afford an economic agenda that will take our country in the wrong direction and cost jobs. At a time when our small businesses need support from Washington, we cannot raise taxes, increase regulation and isolate ourselves from foreign markets. These are the same old siren songs that have failed the American people time and time again."

Barack Obama released this statement at 9:18 a.m. EDT

"As we head into the 4th of July weekend, today's report that our economy has lost another 62,000 jobs is a stark reminder that far too many Americans will spend this holiday out of work and struggling to provide for their families because of the failed policies of the last eight years.

Our economy has now shed 438,000 jobs over the past six months, while workers' wages fail to keep pace with the skyrocketing cost of gas, groceries and healthcare.  The American people are paying the price for the failed economic policies of the past eight years, and we can't afford four more years of more of the same.  That is the essential issue of this campaign because Senator McCain has fully embraced the Bush economic agenda.  I believe it has to change.

But, as these numbers demonstrate, the American people can't wait another six months.  We need action now.

That's why I'm calling on Congress and the President to enact real, immediate relief with energy rebates for working families this summer, a fund to help families avoid foreclosure, extended benefits for the long-term jobless, and assistance to states that have been hard-hit by the economic downturn.

As President, I'll move us in a new direction with policies to restore broad-based, bottom up growth that benefits all Americans. I will provide working families with a middle-class tax cut; fight for affordable health care and college tuition; work to help raise workers' wages, and invest in infrastructure, education and a clean energy future to create millions of new jobs. That's the change the American people need."