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The Associated Press September 28, 2011, 6:46PM ET

Bernanke: Long-term unemployment a national crisis

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says long-term unemployment is a national crisis. He's calling for Congress to do more to address the problem and provide more help to the battered housing industry.

Bernanke says people who have been out of work for two or three years are losing skills and need government support for such challenges as retraining for new jobs. He also said more federal help is needed to revive the housing market.

Bernanke's comments are his latest effort to prod Congress to take steps to rejuvenate the weak economy. He suggests the Fed can achieve only so much through policies that seek to lower long-term interest rates.

The Fed's efforts to boost the economy through low rates are occurring as Republicans in Congress are focused on shrinking spending.

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