US employers won’t hire enough workers this year to lower the jobless rate much below the level of 9.7% reached in February, three Obama administration economic officials said today. The proportion of Americans who can’t find work is likely to “remain elevated for an extended period,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, White House budget director Peter Orszag and Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a joint statement. The officials said unemployment may even rise “slightly” over the next few months as discouraged workers start job-hunting again. “We do not expect further declines in unemployment this year,” the officials said in testimony prepared for the House Appropriations Committee. They predicted the economy would add about 100,000 jobs a month on average -- not enough to bring the jobless rate down substantially.