Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called the U.S. economy “strong and resilient,” saying it remains on a path where a recession can be avoided.

South Africa Yellen

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a roundtable discussion at Dinokeng Game Reserve in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, South Africa on Wednesday, as part of a Treasury ten-day tour of Africa, with stops in Senegal, Zambia, and South Africa. Themba Hadebe/Associated Press file

“What I see is a path in which inflation is declining significantly and the economy is remaining strong,” Yellen said Monday in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.

The pace of increases in the consumer price index, which peaked at 9.1% in the year through June, has since declined to 6.5% in December. Yellen said that it still “remains too high,” and that bringing it down has been President Biden’s top priority.

Yellen also pointed to a strong January jobs report as evidence of the economy’s momentum.

“You don’t have a recession when you have 500,000 jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in more than 50 years,” she said.

The Labor Department reported last week that employers added 517,000 new jobs in January, exceeding all economist estimates, and unemployment fell to 3.4%, it’s lowest level since 1969.

The Treasury chief also reiterated her call for Congress to raise the debt limit, saying that “not to do so would produce an economic and financial catastrophe.” The Treasury is expected to run out of room to keep paying all federal obligations sometime later this year.

“It’s something that simply can’t be negotiable,” Yellen said. “And while sometimes we’ve gotten up to the wire, it’s something that Congress has always recognized” as its responsibility to pass – and needs to do so again, she said.

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