Geithner Warns Unemployment Will Stay High in 2010

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other top economic officials in the Obama administration say that, while they expect some improvement this spring, 2010 will probably remain a rough year for Americans looking for work.

In testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, Geithner read a joint statement -- which he prepared with Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, and Peter Orszag, director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget -- warning that the nation's unemployment rate "is likely to remain elevated for an extended period. The forecast projects that in the fourth quarter of 2011, the unemployment rate will be 8.9%, and that by the fourth quarter of 2012, it will be 7.9%."

Geithner called the current unemployment rate of 9.7% "unacceptable by any metric." He testified that it usually takes the creation of more than 100,000 jobs per month to bring the unemployment rate down; the administration foresees job creation averaging 100,000 for the rest of 2010 -- but doesn't expect it to substantially exceed that. In fact, Geithner said, the jobless rate might even rise slightly over the next few months, as unemployed workers attempt to return to the labor force.

However, he said, the Obama administration's actions have kept the United States from slipping into a "second Great Depression."

"The worst now appears to be behind us," said Geithner. "However, the country faces significant and ongoing challenges: high unemployment, the need to build a new and stable foundation for prosperity in the years and decades ahead, and a medium- and long-term fiscal situation that could ultimately undermine future job creation and economic growth. The big problems we face today were all years in the making, and it is our responsibility to address them without delay."

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