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In an increasingly technological society, it is "crucial for the future of our nation" to help American students become proficient in math and science, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Thursday.

Greenspan, who normally limits his congressional appearances to monetary matters, appeared for the first time before the House Education and the Work Force Committee to urge lawmakers to make math and science education a national priority.

"It is obviously just a matter of time before the bulk of our work force will require a much higher level of problem-solving skills than is currently evident," Greenspan said.

A hundred years ago, just one in 10 workers was in a professional or technical job, but by 1970 the number had doubled, and today those jobs account for nearly one-third of the work force, he said.

"The pressures we face today are not unlike those of a century ago, when our education system successfully responded to the multiplying needs brought about by a marked acceleration in technological innovation."

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