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Bernanke cites harm from long-term unemployment

WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated his concern yesterday that chronic long-term unemployment threatens to reduce the nation’s supply of skilled workers.

In a second day of congressional testimony, he noted that the economic recovery has been slower than normal. But he said he doubts that the recession permanently reduced the economy’s growth potential.

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He said he did worry that more than 40 percent of America’s unemployed - 5.5 million people - have been out of work for more than six months. He said that if the problem persists, more of the long-term unemployed will lose skills and struggle to regain them.

Bernanke made his remarks as part of his semiannual report to Congress. He repeated his assessment that the pace of growth has been “uneven and modest by historical standards.’’

In his testimony, Bernanke has signaled that the Fed is in no hurry to begin raising interest rates from record lows.

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