(WASHINGTON) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Friday that if the pace of job creation continues at December’s levels -- when 103,000 jobs were added to payrolls -- the nation will not see “sustained declines in the unemployment rate.”
At a Senate Budget Committee hearing, the panel’s top Republican, Jeff Sessions, contended Friday’s jobs report represented “treading water” and produced “not really a number that we can celebrate.”
In response, Bernanke said, “It’s about what we expected, but as you say it’s not a number that’s going to -- if we continue at this pace you’re not going to see sustained declines in the unemployment rate.”
Bernanke said the fed sees improvements in consumer and business spending, but remains concerned about the housing sector and the jobs market. The central bank boss warned that “it could take four to five years for the job market to normalize fully.”
An additional cause for concern for the fed -- something that Bernanke has warned Congress about time and time again -- is the nation’s soaring deficits. Those concerns were echoed this morning by the Budget panel’s Democratic chairman and ranking Republican.
“Facing up to the debt problem is something we must do and we must do it together,” said Democrat Kent Conrad of North Dakota.
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