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Originally published Friday, June 26, 2009 at 11:07 AM

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Bernanke faces GOP-led heat on BofA-Merrill deal

Reliable economic statistics produced by the U.S. government are important to Federal Reserve policymakers as well as millions of ordinary Americans wanting to keep tabs on jobs, wages and prices at stores, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday.

AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON —

Reliable economic statistics produced by the U.S. government are important to Federal Reserve policymakers as well as millions of ordinary Americans wanting to keep tabs on jobs, wages and prices at stores, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday.

Bernanke offered those observations in prepared remarks celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency responsible for producing a raft of economic reports, including monthly employment figures, consumer prices, wholesale prices, employment costs and productivity.

"Clearly the timeliness and the reliability of your labor market and price reports are critical to us," Bernanke said. The agency's reports also help the public understand economic trends, he added.

Fed policymakers weigh all kinds of economic data in deciding the direction of interest rates.

The Fed on Wednesday decided to hold a key bank lending rate at a record low near zero to help brace the economy, which has been stuck in a recession since December 2007.

In his remarks, Bernanke didn't talk about the current state of the economy or financial conditions.

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