Bernanke sees growth picking up, but not jobs

By Reuters
Posted Jan. 13 at 1:51 p.m.

The U.S. economy should grow around 3 percent to 4 percent this year, a healthier clip than in 2010 but not enough to bring down unemployment as much as policymakers would like, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Thursday.

“We see the economy strengthening. It has looked better in the last few months. We think a 3 to 4 percent-type of growth number for 2011 seems reasonable,” Bernanke said at an event sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

“Now that’s not going to reduce unemployment at the pace we’d like it to, but certainly it would be good to see the economy growing and that means more sales, more business,” he added.

Bernanke’s forecast still shows how much the outlook has brightened in policymakers’ eyes since November, when the Fed anticipated growth next year in a range of 3 percent to 3.6 percent.

At the time, the Fed launched its controversial $600 billion bond buying program aimed at keeping interest rates low to spur more robust growth and bring down the lofty unemployment rate.

The Fed chairman said that it looks less likely that the recovery could stall.

“We’re seeing some improvement in the labor market, I think deflation risk has receded considerably and so we’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

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