One of President Barack Obama's top economic advisors said Thursday that the sense of free fall in the economy will likely come to an end soon, though there are still signs of weakness.

Speaking at the Economic Club in Washington, DC, Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House's National Economic Council, also suggested that the unemployment rate will continue to rise before the downturn is over.

The event, which was interrupted at one point by a pair of protesters, is the latest in a long line of appearances by administration officials explaining the president's economic recovery efforts to a public that has been skeptical at times about whether the large outlays of money have been well spent.

Summers said that there are still substantial downdrafts in the economy, with strains remaining in credit markets.

However, he argued that there have been some signs of easing in the recession. This includes evidence that production has been running below final sales - a fact that suggests that inventories are running down.

Asked about the unemployment rate, Summers suggested that problems in the jobs market will continue to deepen before the recession is out, saying that he can't hold out the prospect that the unemployment rate will stabilize at current levels.

The government's last monthly employment report, released last week, showed that the unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent - its highest level since 1983.

The president's economic recovery effort has faced some criticism for the high level of spending it has involved.

Also, some have criticized a lack of oversight for the financial rescue money, most notably in the AIG scandal, where the troubled insurance company paid out hefty bonuses to some employees after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep the firm from collapsing.

Summers' appearance was interrupted when a pair of protesters walked onto the stage, holding a pink banner that read We want our $$$ back.

The protesters were booed by the crowd and Summers joked about the event shortly after he was allowed to resume his presentation.

There are moments that are more pleasant and moments that are less pleasant, Summers said in response to a question about why he took the economic advisory job.

The Obama Administration has been heavily promoting its economic rescue efforts, attempting to overcome public skepticism. Earlier on Thursday, the president hosted a roundtable discussion about the benefits of low interest rates and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has been on the Sunday talk show circuit over the past couple weeks.

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