(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke affirmed here Wednesday that the unemployment rate will decline "gradually" over the next several years.
Bernanke said during a press conference that "looking ahead" the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) anticipates that the unemployment rate "will decline gradually over the next several years, reflecting the moderate pace of economic growth".
He indicated that projections for the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of this year have a central tendency of 7.8 percent to 8.0 percent, declining to 6.7 percent to 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
He added that estimates of the "longer-run normal rate of unemployment have a central tendency of 5.2 (percent) to 6.0 percent".
Bernanke noted that "inflation has picked up somewhat, mainly reflecting higher gasoline prices," expecting that "effect to be only temporary".
"Consequently, we anticipate that inflation will subsequently run at or below the committee's longer-run goal of 2 percent. In particular, participants' projections of inflation have a central tendency of 1.9 (percent) to 2.0 percent for 2012 and 1.7 (percent) to 2.0 percent for 2014," he indicated.
Meanwhile, the Federal chief affirmed "we remain prepared to do more as needed to make sure that this recovery continues and that inflation stays close to target".
"If appropriate and depending also on assessment of the costs and risks of additional policy actions, we remain entirely prepared to take additional balancing actions if necessary to achieve our objectives," he added.
Bernanke stressed that "those tools remain very much on the table and we will not hesitate to use them should the economy require that additional support".