Sec. Geithner: Unemployment rate to stay ‘unacceptably high’ for some time

Geithner said that while the Obama administration’s had made great strides toward repairing the “huge amount of damage” the recession has done to businesses and families, there was still time ahead before the U.S. sees job growth.

“The economy’s growing now, that’s the first step,” Geithner said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show. “But the unemployment rate is still terribly high, and it’s going to stay unacceptably high for a long time.”

“It’s going to take a long period of time to bring it down because of the damage that was done,” the Treasury secretary added.

The economy has seen signs of recovery, the latest being a 5.6 percent growth rate in GDP for the fourth quarter of 2009. The government will release highly-anticipated figures next month on the growth in the U.S. economy for the first three months of 2010.

The report is expected to show that the economy added more than one hundred thousand jobs in March, but many of the new workers will have been hired for temporary jobs at the U.S. Census Bureau.

Republicans pointed Thursday to the administration’s own projections last year to sell their stimulus plan, which projected unemployment to have declined to 7.5 percent at this point already.

Still, state unemployment rates have remained largely unchanged or even slightly higher, raising the specter of a jobless recovery in the short-term, the reverberations of which could be felt during this fall’s midterm elections.

Geithner said that the damage done by the financial crisis and recession had been severe, “And we’re going to be living with that damage for some time.”

This post was updated at 10:24 a.m.

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