More than 1 million out-of-work Americans will not see their unemployment benefits extended before Congress takes its holiday recess.
The House passed its bill, but the Senate won't take up its version until July 12. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says those unemployment checks are critical.
"It means they've got money in their pocket for the local grocery store, the local gas station and the local hardware store," Solis said. "It means more money in local economies and more job creation."
President Barack Obama insists the economy is headed for recovery, but admits it is a slow process.
"It's not headed there fast enough," Obama said. "Not if you're out of work. Not if you can't pay the mortgage. Not if you can't take care of your family."
Economists say a decline in today's job numbers would snap a five-month streak of gains.
"This isn't the picture of a recovery -- it's the epitome of failure," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
The agony of being out of work and fruitlessly searching for new work for a year-and-a-half is soul-draining for Fred Sherrod.
"It's very easy to say why should I get up and get motivated to do this when I have so many days and so many months when the end result is the same," Sherrod said.
In just two months, Sherrod's unemployment benefits will run out and he'll lose his health insurance.
"It will change, something will come about, something will happen, otherwise there's a big part of the middle class in this country that won't exist anymore," Sherrod said.
Less employment creates a bigger drag on the economy, meaning less consumer spending -- and even more sluggish housing sales.
"Housing and jobs are the parallel problems as far as weakness for the rebound is concerned," said Matt Miller of Bloomberg News.