Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression is probably over, but he warns recovery will be slow. Bernanke says the pace of growth should be moderate in 2010, which he says will likely delay job creation. President Obama, meanwhile, was busy reassuring workers in Ohio that his administration's policies are working.
After talking about the need for tougher financial controls on Wall Street [Monday], President Obama continued his push on the economy Tuesday. He spoke to workers at a General Motors plant in Ohio. Demand from the "cash for clunkers" [clunkers: old cars with low gas mileage] program has been so high, the plant rehired 150 laid off workers.
"Our belief was that if GM retooled and reinvented itself for the 21st century, it would be good for the American worker," said President Obama. "It would be good for American manufacturing. It would be good for America's economy."
But the president's message comes amid mixed economic signals. Retail sales jumped nearly three percent last month while unemployment - now at a 26 year high, has continued to rise. Yet, in his strongest statements yet on the U.S. economy, Fed Chief Ben Bernanke says the recession is probably over.
"I've seen some agreement among the forecasting community at this point that we are in a recovery, that we will see growth in the third quarter and that growth will continue until 2010," said Ben Bernanke.
However, Bernanke warns recovery will be slow with unemployment continuing to rise into next year.
"From a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point," he said. "It's still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time as many people will still find that their job security and employment status is not what they wish it was."
For Rick Hirst, who recently lost his job at Microsoft - it was not the kind of news he wanted to hear.
"I did everything right," he said. "I got schooling. I stuck with my jobs. I did my best. I didn't lie, cheat or steal. Why am I not among the ranks of the employed?"
President Obama acknowledges the recovery will not be simple or swift. But he told workers he is confident the economic storms of the past two years are starting to break.