Fed chairman: aging population puts U.S. economy on 'unsustainable path'

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Failing to address the challenges of an aging population will endanger the country's economic future, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a gathering of business and union leaders in Rhode Island Monday night.

During his half-hour speech to the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, Bernanke reflected on the role of an aging population in the economy, as well as the financial burden facing states.

“The retirement of state employees, together with continuing increases in health-care costs, will cause public pension and retiree health-care obligations to become increasingly difficult to meet,” according to Bernanke, the Providence Journal reported. This puts the country on “an unsustainable path in the longer term.”

In commenting on the budget crisis facing states, Bernanke noted that the states collectively are on the hook for $600 billion in retiree health benefits and $2 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities.