Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday that the US economy still has far to go to recover to an acceptable state of health.
"Today the economy is significantly stronger than it was four years ago, although conditions are clearly still far from where we would all like them to be," he said.
The statement, made in a speech on banking in Stone Mountain, Georgia, came as economists and investors seek signs on whether the US central bank is ready to tighten up its easy-money policy aimed at holding long-term interest rates down.
Since December the Fed has stuck to its ultra-low rates and its $85 billion per month "quantitative easing" bond purchase program despite economic indicators that led many to believe the economy is picking up speed.
Bernanke has consistently tied tightening monetary policy to a substantial improvement in unemployment, with the rate currently 7.6 percent, and his statement echoed comments made in previous months that he was not satisfied with the pace of recovery.
On Friday the Labor Department reported that just 88,000 new jobs were generated in March, the slowest growth in nine months.