WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) -- Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said that private sector demand will be "sufficient" to spur a moderate economic recovery in coming months, but he added that more time is needed to recover job losses.
"A recovery in economic activity appears to have begun in the second half of last year," Bernanke told the Joint Economic Committee.
Bernanke's speech was mostly upbeat, noting all the different areas where the economy has picked up. He pointed to higher GDP rates, increasing auto sales and a strengthening financial system as catalysts for the Federal Reserve to wind down programs that were propping up those sectors.
"Going forward, consumer spending should be aided by a gradual pickup in jobs and earnings, the recovery in household wealth from recent lows, and some improvement in credit availability," Bernanke said.
He cautioned that the unemployment rate and the housing market remain areas of concern.
"I am particularly concerned about the fact that, in March, 44% of the unemployed had been without a job for six months or more," Bernanke said. "Long periods without work erode individuals' skills and hurt future employment prospects. Younger workers may be particularly adversely affected if a weak labor market prevents them from finding a first job or from gaining important work experience."
Bernanke also spoke about the need for policymakers to start tackling the growing federal deficit, to maintain "the confidence of the public and financial markets."
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, asked Bernanke about whether the nation could face problems like Greece or Ireland, with countries doubting the U.S.'s ability to control its debt.
Bernanke stressed that the United States has a more "diversified," economy, but acknowledged that, "at some point, the markets will make a judgment about our political will to achieve longer term stability."
Credit Suisse is offering more generous benefits for new parents in the U.S., including paid leave of 20 weeks, as part of a package that it claims is the best on Wall Street. More
Morgan Stanley says the middle class is "eroding." The rich are paying down their debt, the poor and middle class aren't. More
The AT&T customers still clinging to their unlimited data plans are going to see a $5 price hike in February. More
Have you heard of Harvey Mudd College? A degree from this small liberal arts school can cost more than a house, but grads earn about $92,300 a year after getting their degree. Google hired 11 Mudders last year. More