Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said he expects the unemployment rate to remain "unacceptably high" for a long time, even as the economy recovers and job growth slowly resumes.
"I think the key thing that's going to happen is the economy's going to start creating jobs again," Geithner said in an interview aired Thursday on NBC's "Today." "But the unemployment rate is still terribly high, and it is going to stay unacceptably high for a long period of time."
The comments came ahead of the government's monthly jobs report, which is due Friday. That report is expected to show that U.S. employers added 190,000 jobs in March, but the unemployment rate remaining at a persistently high 9.7%.
"It is going to take a long time to bring it down because of the damage of the recession," Geithner said of the jobless rate.
The remarks were consistent with previous administration forecasts. In a Feb. 1 report on assumptions underlying the fiscal 2011 budget, Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman Christina Romer said the unemployment rate will end the year at around 9.8%, and will reach 8.9% by the fourth quarter of next year.
Geithner, who was interviewed at a meeting of business leaders in Pittsburgh, said the financial crisis and subsequent recession of the last few years had caused a "huge amount of damage" to businesses and households.
"We're going to be living with that damage for some time," he said.
However, he stressed that President Obama has taken steps to revive economic activity and foster job growth, including a $17.6 billion bill passed earlier this month.
"It is going to take time to bring back what we lost," Geithner said. "But again, that's why he's working so hard to make sure that Congress is providing additional support for job creation, more support for small business, more support for infrastructure, more support for cities and states across the country."
–CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley contributed to this report.