Fed's Bernake Warns of Long Unemployment Fight

However, the unemployment rate did fall to 9.4% in December.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned on Jan. 7 that the current "insufficient" rate of job creation meant a "considerable time" will be needed to right the jobs market.

"The economic recovery that began a year and a half ago is continuing," the Fed boss said in prepared testimony to Congress, "although, to date, at a pace that has been insufficient to reduce the rate of unemployment significantly."

"Considerable time likely will be required before the unemployment rate has returned to a more normal level."

The Labor Department announced on Jan.7 that unemployment fell sharply to 9.4% in December, its lowest level since May 2009. However the economy created 103,000 jobs, much less than expected. ,

Employment rose in the leisure, hospitality and health care sectors but "changed little in other major industries," the department reported.

Since December 2009, payrolls have grown by 1.1 million, an average of 94,000 each month.

"There were 1.3 million discouraged workers in December, an increase of 389,000 from December 2009," the Labor Department said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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