Ben Bernanke: US recovery continues but growth is weak

Ben Bernanke
Image caption US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said unemployment was falling faster than expected

The chief of the US central bank says the US economy is continuing to recover, but that growth is bumpy and modest.

Chairman of the US Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke was updating Congress on the health of the US economy.

He said the decline in unemployment has been more rapid than expected.

For much of last year, the jobless rate was stuck around 9%, but it started dropping at the end of last year and hit 8.3% in January.

In his speech, the Fed Chairman said that the labour market "remains far from normal".

"The unemployment rate remains elevated, long-term unemployment is still near record levels and the number of persons working part-time for economic reasons is very high." he said.

The speech contained no hints that Mr Bernanke is planning a third round of quantitative easing (QE). That is the central bank's method of boosting the economy by buying up government bonds.

"Bernanke implied that the Fed was no closer to QE3... Investors were disappointed," said Cary Leahey of Decision Economics in New York.

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