NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Data suggest the economic contraction may be slowing, but the economy is hardly out of the woods, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers on Wednesday.
"A number of factors are likely to continue to weigh on consumer spending, among them the weak labor market, the declines in equity and housing wealth that households have experienced over the past two years, and still-tight credit conditions," Bernanke said.
Bernanke said he still anticipates that the economy will start its recovery later this year, but cautioned that "recovery will only gradually gain momentum and that economic slack will diminish slowly. In particular, businesses are likely to be cautious about hiring and the unemployment rate is likely to rise for a time, even after economic growth resumes."
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