WASHINGTON, July 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Monday that credit conditions for the country 's small businesses remain "very difficult" and making credit accessible to sound small businesses should be center among current economic policies.
At a Fed meeting entitled "Addressing the Financing Needs of Small Businesses" in Washington D.C., the central bank chief noted that small businesses are central to creating jobs in the U.S. economy.
"Making credit accessible to sound small businesses is crucial to our economic recovery and so should be front and center among our current policy challenges," Bernanke said.
Bernanke said the formation and growth of small businesses depends critically on access to credit. "Unfortunately, those businesses report that credit conditions remain very difficult," he added.
According to the Fed's data, one measure of banks' loans to small businesses dropped from more than 710 billion dollars in the second quarter of 2008 to less than 670 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2010.
Bernanke said that over the past two years, the Federal Reserve and other agencies have made a concerted effort to stabilize the U. S. financial system and the overall economy.
The economy began to grow in the third quater of 2009. But unemployment rate, currently at 9.5 percent, remains at a high level and is not expected to drop significantly soon.
U.S. President Barack Obama has taken job creation as a top priority on his policy agenda. He repeatedly said that small businesses are the major force to create new jobs.
Bernanke said that small businesses employ roughly one-half of all Americans and account for about 60 percent of gross job creation. Newer small businesses, those less than two years old, are especially important: Over the past 20 years, these start-up enterprises accounted for roughly one-quarter of gross job creation even though they employed less than 10 percent of the workforce.
He said that the Fed is taking effort to tackle this issue with other economic policy making agencies, but "more must be done."