WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, shown above, reiterated his concern Thursday that chronic long-term unemployment threatens to reduce the nation's supply of skilled workers.
In a second day of congressional testimony, Bernanke noted that the economic recovery has been slower than normal.
Bernanke said he did worry that more than 40 percent of America's unemployed — 5.5 million people — have been out of work for more than six months. He said that if the problem persists, more of the long-term unemployed will lose job skills and struggle to regain them.
Bernanke made his remarks to the Senate Banking Committee on the second day of his semi-annual economic report to Congress.
He repeated his assessment that the pace of growth has been “uneven and modest by historical standards.”
In his two days of testimony, Bernanke has signaled that the Fed is in no hurry to begin raising interest rates from record lows.
Some analysts say that if the economy continues to surpass expectations, the Fed will eventually have to modify its plan to keep short-term rates at super-lows until at least late 2014.
Bernanke noted some economic improvements, including a drop in the unemployment rate. But he also cited continuing risks. They include Europe's debt crisis and rising gas prices.