"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