The latest job numbers are in. And it isn’t a pretty picture. The overall economy lost jobs last month for the first time in four years. Over the next six months, 1.3 million unemployed men and women will run out of benefits without finding new work. First-time unemployment claims rose a whopping 69,000 in the week ended Jan. 26. It’s the largest one-week jump since Hurricane Katrina.

The numbers confirm what we already know—Congress must act immediately and decisively to head off the worst. The quickest and most effective way to do it is to put money in the pockets of those who need it most—the unemployed. In addition, the U.S. Senate should include additional effective mechanisms for economic stimulus. It can provide for fiscal relief to the states, accelerate ready-to-go construction projects, temporarily increase food-stamp benefits and offer tax rebates to low-income seniors and disabled veterans.

Economists agree that extending unemployment benefits is a proven way to stimulate the economy. Unemployed workers are likely to spend these benefits quickly to make ends meet, which quickly pumps money into the economy. As Moody’s economist Mark Zandi points out: If someone who is literally living paycheck to paycheck gets an extra dollar, it’s very likely that they will spend that dollar immediately on whatever they need—groceries, to pay the telephone bill, to pay the electric bill.

Congress must act now to ensure the jobless are left with something to fall back on as job creation falters and the economy creaks toward recession. Tell your senators to support quick, effective stimulus today: Union Voice