Calling Dr. Bernanke. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday, telling lawmakers that the job market is still far from healthy after signs of economic improvement over the past year.
After asking lawmakers to reduce the long-term budget, Bernanke said, “We still have a long way to go before the labor market can be said to be operating normally,” echoing testimony he gave on Feb. 2 to the House Budget panel. “Particularly troubling is the unusually high level of long-term unemployment.”
The jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 8.3% in January. Bernanke’s testimony on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg, “indicated that his views on the health of the labor market haven’t changed, even though he didn’t refer to the January data. The economy added 243,000 jobs last month, exceeding the most optimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.”
The unexpectedly rosy report has economists rethinking their largely pessimistic outlooks for the year. The report also fueled suspicion from Administration critics over its accuracy.