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Bernanke: U.S. economy still needs Fed's help.

Despite recent reports that show it is growing, the U.S. economy still needs the help of the Federal Reserve, Chairman Ben Bernanke told reporters on Thursday. 

Bernanke was cautiously optimistic when addressing the recent positive economic reports that have been released; he cited gains in household spending, improved consumer confidence and increased bank lending as portents of an economic resurgence in 2011. However he also said that unemployment could remain high during the year as private businesses are reluctant to hire. 

"Although economic growth will probably increase this year, we expect the unemployment rate to remain stubbornly above, and inflation to remain stubbornly below, the levels that Federal Reserve policymakers have judged to be consistent over the longer term with our mandate," he told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. 

Bernanke affirmed that while an economic recovery is gaining traction, "we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established" until "we see a sustained period of stronger job creation." The Fed has continued with its policy of quantitative easing - even after staunch criticism from some lawmakers - and is focused on ensuring continued economic growth before it addresses inflationary pressures that could arise from the loose monetary policies it has employed over the past few years.