WASHINGTON - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said yesterday that he believed it was reasonable to expect "positive job growth" by spring and that people should have confidence about an improving economic climate.
In an interview broadcast on ABC's "Good Morning America," Geithner also said he believed many banks around the country still had work ahead of them to regain the public's faith.
"They need to work very hard to shore it up," he said, adding that he was not certain that "all banks get it."
Geithner's stewardship of the Treasury has come in for criticism on occasion. But he said, "I think most people would say the economy actually is strengthening now going into the end of the year."
He acknowledged that the key was to regain lost jobs.
The nation has lost jobs for 23 consecutive months, with the total loss at 7.2 million jobs as the unemployment rate climbed to 10 percent in November from 4.9 percent in December 2007, at the start of the recession. The job loss in November was 11,000.
When asked during the TV interview if job growth would return in December, Geithner said, "I don't think so." Instead, he pointed to "early signs" of a labor market recovery that would lead to an expanding workforce in the first half of 2010, now that economic growth is picking up.
"Confidence is improving," Geithner said. "Most economists would say that, by the spring, we'll have positive job growth."
Geithner said banks needed to do more to show they had learned from the financial crisis, which brought on the worst recession since the Great Depression.
"They need to make sure they're doing everything they can to help people who can afford to stay in their homes stay in their homes," he said. "They need to show some restraint and care in how they pay their people, and they need to be supportive of the kind of reforms we need to create a more stable system in the future."