“The unemployment rate is just not going down,” Bernanke told 60 Minutes in an interview aired on Sunday night, adding that “at the rate we’re going, it could be 4, 5 years before we’re back to a normal unemployment rate (at around 5 percent to 6 percent).”
The CBS News broadcast came just a couple of days after the US government released a job report which said the country’s economy had added only 39,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate had risen to 9.8 percent.
The US Federal Reserve chairman also added that the Fed might do more to support the fragile economic recovery, defending its 600 billion-dollar Treasury bond-purchase plan.
Bernanke also warned that the US economy is still struggling to become “self-sustaining” without government help.
Congressional Republicans criticized the decision to buy 600 billion dollars in Treasury bonds which is announced to be a part of a second “quantitative easing” (QE2) effort to encourage more private lending.
Republican leaders have taken the Fed to task on its QE2 decision, saying it will lead to inflation and a devalued dollar and would not help the country’s economy.
Asked if the Fed would consider buying more bonds, Bernanke said, “It’s certainly possible…It depends on the efficacy of the program, it depends on inflation, and finally it depends on how the economy looks.”
In the interview, the Federal Reserve chairman dismissed critics who argue that the policy could lead to future inflation.
He also rejected accusations that the Fed was printing money, saying the US money supply has not significantly changed.