Administration officials are predicting the unemployment rate to stay around its current level of 9.7 percent for the rest of the year.
White House advisers say the economy will not add enough jobs to bring down the rate substantially. They say it may even rise over the next few months.
"We're seeing some encouraging signs of progress, but we face many, many daunting challenges ahead," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at a House Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday morning.
President Barack Obama's economic advisers say the economy will grow at a good pace, but not enough to add jobs.
"We expect to begin seeing job gains sometime this spring," said Council of Economic Advisers chair Christina Romer, citing the administration's forecasts that the labor market will add about 100,000 jobs per month this year, 200,000 per month next year, and 250,000 per month in 2012.
"Nevertheless," she said, "because of the severe toll the recession has taken on the labor market, unemployment is likely to remain elevated for an extended period."