Employment Service office -  Limor Edrey - 27122011
The Employment Service office in Kfar Sava is emptying out. Photo by Limor Edrey
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Despite the slowdown in economic activity and a decline in most economic indexes, the unemployment rate in Israel in October was just 5%, the lowest since 1978's 4.3% jobless level. The October rate, which was released on Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics, translates in human terms into 155,200 Israelis who were seeking employment in October.

October unemployment in 2010 stood at 6.5% of the civilian workforce, while in October 2009, it was 7.5%. The CBS defines someone as unemployed if he or she did not work at all during a specifically designated week despite being available to work in an appropriate job and even though he or she actively looked for work in the prior four weeks. The 5.0% unemployment rate in October declined from 5.1% in September and 5.2% in August. It was 6.2% in January.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called the decline in the jobless rate evidence of the success of the government's economic policy against the backdrop of the world economic crisis. Maintaining the low unemployment rate in the face of growing economic problems in Europe will require continued encouragement of investment and growth and a "responsible budgetary policy," he said.

At a rate of 5.0%, most of the jobless are simply in transition into new jobs. They include recent university and high-school graduates, those who recently completely their army service, and workers between jobs. The number of chronically unemployed Israelis is currently very low, but the rate at which some sectors of the population, notably ultra-Orthodox men and Arab women, actively participate in the workforce is also relatively low, it should be noted.

The overall unemployment rate in Israel is expected to rise significantly next year due to a slowdown in the economy.