LIers hopeful; Fed chief says slump likely over

(AP) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke saidTuesday the worst recession since the 1930s is probably over,although he cautioned that pain - especially for the nearly 15million unemployed Americans - will persist.

Bernanke said the economy likely is growing now, but he warnedthat won't be sufficient to prevent the unemployment rate, now at a26-year high of 9.7 percent, from rising.

"From a technical perspective, the recession is very likelyover at this point," Bernanke said in responding to questions atthe Brookings Institution. "It's still going to feel like a veryweak economy for some time because many people will still find thattheir job security and their employment status is not what theywish it was."

The recession, which started in December 2007, has claimed a nettotal of 6.9 million jobs.

With expectations for a lethargic recovery, the Fed predictsthat unemployment will top 10 percent this year. The post-World WarII high was 10.8 percent at the end of 1982.

Some economists say it will take at least four years for the jobless rate to drop down to a more normal range of 5 percent.

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