(USA TODAY) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring and that the Fed’s existing policies will help boost growth.

Further job gains will likely require more robust consumer and business demand, Bernanke said Monday during a speech at the National Association for Business Economics spring conference in Arlington, Va.

Bernanke’s comments suggest the central bank is prepared to keep interest rates near zero for some time.

“Despite the recent improvement, the job market remains far from normal,” Bernanke said. “The number of people working and total hours worked are still significantly below pre-crisis peaks.”

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