WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday that rising wages will probably spur household spending in the next few quarters, even as “slow” job gains drag down consumer confidence.

“We have a considerable way to go to achieve a full recovery in our economy,” Bernanke said in a speech to Southern state lawmakers in Charleston, S.C. Still, “rising demand from households and businesses should help sustain growth,” and consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, “seems likely to pick up in coming quarters from its recent modest pace.”

Fed policymakers are now starting to consider how to bolster the recovery and reduce unemployment after a year of developing tools to remove record monetary stimulus. A report July 30 showed that the economy, recovering from the worst recession since the 1930s, slowed to a 2.4 percent annual rate in the second quarter, less than forecast, as a scarcity of jobs eroded consumer spending.

The economy “is now expanding at a moderate pace,” Bernanke said to the Southern Legislative Conference. “To be sure, notable restraints on the recovery persist,” including housing, commercial real estate and the labor market, he said.

A lesson from the Great Depression is that “we need to make sure that monetary policy continues to provide support the economy needs until we begin to see sustained growth and particularly growth in jobs,” Bernanke said in response to an audience question. “That is what the Fed is doing: We are maintaining strong monetary policy support for the recovery.”

The Fed chief devoted most of the speech to current and long-term budget issues for state and local governments. States are cutting spending in response to $84 billion in budget deficits. The reductions are “weighing on economic activity,” Bernanke said.