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Israeli expenditure on small durable goods, such as toasters, sank 4.2% in 2012. Photo by Reuters
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Exports (illustration) Photo by Bloomberg

Israel's economy expanded by a paltry 3.3 percent  this year, its slowest pace since 2009, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Monday. Last year, GDP grew 4.6 percent.

Unemployment was low by international standards -- only 6.9 percent of the workforce, it added.

The statistics institute released these figures at a press conference in Jerusalem.

In the third quarter, the economy expanded by only 2.8 percent in annualized terms, meaning that growth would have been 2.8 percent had it kept up this pace for a year. The figures were 3.1% for the second quarter and 3.0 percent for the first quarter.

The figures for the fourth quarter, which ends today, will be released only in February -- after the Knesset election.

The growth figure for all of 2012 could be revised at that time.

Furthermore, once population growth is factored in, economic growth was even slower. While the population expanded by 1.8% over the course of 2012, GDP per capita grew by only 1.5 percent. This figure, which equals the GDP divided by the number of people in the population, is considered a measure of a country's standard of living.

In 2011, GDP per capita grew almost twice as much, at 2.7 percent.

Total GDP per capita was NIS 117,600 this year, or $30,500.

Other figures disappointed as well. Goods and services exports expanded by only 1.0 percent in 2012, after increasing 5.5 percent in 2011. Expenditure on small durable goods decreased 4.2 percent. One big factor in this was the 9.1 percent decrease in purchases of vehicles for private use.