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Jobless Rate Turned Higher in August, but Labor Force Participation Rate Rose

The more encouraging jobless data come as forecasts for slower economic growth are being pushed back into next year.

A dip in the unemployment rate in July turned out to be just that, as the proportion of jobless in the labor force shot up in August to a seasonally adjusted 6.9%, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday.

The increase was an 0.3 percentage point rise from July when the rate stood at 6.6%. In May and June, the rate had been 7.0% and 7.1%, respectively, according to the latest CBS data.

But the jobless data weren't all discouraging. The percentage of the working age population - people aged 15 and older - grew to 64.3% last month from 64.1% in July, the CBS reported. While the labor force participation rate among men was unchanged between July and August, among women it jumped to 59.3% from 58.5%.

Among the key working age population, ages 25 to 64, the labor force participation rate showed particular improvement, reaching 79.5% in August from 78.7% in July, the CBS said. Also, the proportion of the active labor force working full time rose to 76.9% from 76.7% over the two months.

The more encouraging jobless data come as forecasts for slower economic growth are being pushed back into next year. Earlier this week the Bank of Israel raised its outlook for this year, saying gross domestic product would expand 0.2% more than it previously expected, to 3.3%. But the bank lowered its forecast for next year to 3.0%.

In a separate report, the CBS found that the number of unfilled job openings grew in the second quarter ending June 30. It reported that the number of job openings reached 69,000, an increase of 6,000 from the first quarter. The ratio of supply to demand fell to 5.5 in the second quarter from 6.1 in the first.

The number of vacancies was the highest since the economy emerged from a brief recession in 2009, and broke a string of two quarterly declines in the number of vacancies, CBS figures showed.

Meanwhile, at Phoenicia Flat Glass, management said yesterday that the factory would remain open until October 15, giving the financially troubled company another two weeks to raise cash. Some 400 workers employed by the glass works face unemployment as do 600 others who work for companies that service the plant.