The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced that it will maintain its monetary stimulus program of buying $85 billion worth of bonds each month, citing the high unemployment rate as a cause for concern.

At the close of its second-to-last meeting of the year, the Open Market Committee of the Fed, which sets U.S. monetary policy, called economic growth "moderate" and noted that there has been "a certain improvement" in the labor market.

The majority of analysts believe that the Fed will continue its current Treasury bond and mortgage-buying stimulus program until April or May, when it may reduce the program slightly to about $70 billion per month.

The Committee, by a vote of nine to one, also decided to maintain the benchmark interest rate at below 0.25 percent, a historically low level that it established in December 2008 when the country was in the midst of the Great Recession.

The Committee's statement said that the Fed will maintain that interest rate until the unemployment rate, which currently stands at 7.2 percent, falls to 6.5 percent.

One change in the Committee's communique from its last such announcement was its reference to the fact that the resurging housing sector "has slowed" a bit.

As a result, the Fed said that inflation, which has remained below its goal of 2 percent annually, presents "risks" for economic performance, although the central bank expects that inflation will reach that level "in the medium term."

The Labor Department announced Wednesday that inflation stood at 1.2 percent in September. EFE