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Unemployment inched down in the first quarter of 2007 by 0.1% to 7.7%, from 7.8% in the previous quarter.

The number of jobless, defined as those who didn't work a single hour in any given week but are actively looking for work, was 221,000, the Central Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
 
Unemployment for women during the first quarter was higher than for men: 8.4% as compared to 6.1%. The number of employed reached 2.643 million during that period - an increase of 33,000 over the last quarter of 2006.

Another example of the improving economic situation is that the number of those who are employed part time and seek full-time employment, but have not found it, dropped by 7.9% to 107,900 workers.

The region with the lowest participation in the work force is Jerusalem: Only 45.7% of the population in the region actively worked in the last quarter. In comparison, the Tel Aviv and central regions of the country had the highest participation: 61.3 and 62.4%, respectively. Unemployment in the two regions was also the lowest: 6.1 and 6.6%, respectively.

The biggest improvement in employment in during the first quarter was in retail and wholesale, with an additional 14,800 jobs added in the quarter - a 4.8% increase.

Also, the average number of weekly hours that people worked rose to 36.9, as compared to 36.8 in the last quarter of 2006.