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Published: Wednesday, 2/8/2012

Job market still weak, Fed chief tells Senate


WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the job market isn’t as strong as the steadily declining unemployment rate might suggest.

Responding to questions at a Senate hearing Tuesday, he noted that the unemployment rate doesn’t capture the plight of millions who have stopped looking for work or of part-timers who can’t find full-time jobs.

His cautious view helps explain why the Fed plans to hold interest rates at record lows until late 2014.

Many economists were looking to see if Mr. Bernanke might waver on that stance after Friday’s news that hiring surged in January and the unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 8.3 percent.

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