Bernanke: ‘The Best Thing We Can Say About the Labor Market Right Now Is That It May Be Getting Worse More Slowly’

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You know how painful things, like death and Brazilian bikini waxes, are moderately less painful when they happen quickly and you get it over with? Well. It's not going to be like that with this recession, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said today in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. Specifically, unemployment:

"The best thing we can say about the labor market right now is that it may be getting worse more slowly. Declines in payroll employment over the past four months have averaged about 220,000 per month, compared with 560,000 per month over the first half of this year. The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance is well off its high of last spring, but claims still have not fallen to ranges consistent with rising employment."

Unclear whether the Fed chairman capped off this happy pre-holiday pick-me-up by saying "at least we have our health," or if he excised that from his speech at the last minute out of sensitivity to the millions of people who have no insurance.

Text of Bernanke’s Speech to Economic Club of New York [WSJ]