The U.S. job market is not improving as quickly as once expected, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday.

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke said the most recent economic forecast by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggests “progress in reducing unemployment is now expected to be somewhat slower than we previously projected.”

Private sector job growth of about 100,000 per month so far this year represents “a pace insufficient to reduce the unemployment rate materially.”

The Fed chairman said a “significant amount of time” will be necessary to bring back the jobs lost during the recession.

Though Bernanke assured the panel that the Fed is doing all it can to increase the flow of credit and stimulate the economy through monetary policy, he predicted the unemployment rate would stay above seven percent for another two years.

“Most FOMC participants expect real GDP growth of three to three-and-a-half percent in 2010, and roughly three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half percent in 2011 and 2012,” he said. “The unemployment rate is expected to decline to between seven and seven-and-a-half percent by the end of 2012.”