By Jessica Shambora
January 29, 2009

“Most of the money we’re investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job creation, generating or saving 3 to 4 million new jobs. And the vast majority of these jobs will be created in the private sector — because, as these CEOs well know, business, not government, is the engine of growth in this country.”

— President Barack Obama to business leaders, hours before his $819 billion stimulus package passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported that 21,137 mass layoffs occurred last year, for a total loss of 2.1 million jobs. That’s the highest annual job loss since 2001. This week has been particularly bleak, with 40,000 jobs slashed Monday at companies including Caterpillar , Pfizer , Home Depot and Sprint Nextel. Employees at Starbucks , Boeing and Time Warner’s AOL division received grim news Wednesday. –Jessica Shambora

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