Rough Economy Dampens Holiday Mood for Many

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WASHINTON - The Fourth of July weekend is here, but fewer Americans will be traveling.

The American Automobile Association says more people are staying home, even though gas prices are much lower than they were last year.

The rough economy is dampening the holiday mood for many Americans.

Millions of Americans would do without fireworks this weekend, if it meant they had a job to go to Monday.

This year, the U.S. celebrates its founding amid the worst jobless numbers in a quarter century, and it is only expected to get worse.

Lawrence Mishel is the president of the Economic Policy Institute.

"We have seen the sharpest rise of unemployment in this recession as in any downturn since the 1930's and we're not done," he explained."

The national unemployment rate is expected to hit ten percent. It is almost there now at 9.5 percent.

Last month, employers cut nearly half a million jobs and nearly 15 million Americans were unemployed.

At the White House, President Barack Obama met with chief executive officers of energy companies. He's working to make good on a campaign promise to use America's energy transformation to create new good-paying jobs.

"While there are continuing signs the recession is slowing, this is of little comfort to all those Americans who've lost their jobs," Obama said.

Critics are wondering when the president's nearly $800 billion stimulus plan will start providing relief. So far, just the government has only allocated $160 billion and less than a third of that has been spent.

"It took years for us to get into this mess and it will take more than a few months to turn it around," Obama explained.

The unemployment rate will be the last piece of the recession to improve as employers slowly start to see growth and regain confidence.

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