Israel's unemployment rate took a sharp and surprising dip in April to 6.7% of the labor force from 7.1% in March, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday.

The civilian labor force grew to 3.57 million people in April, of whom 3.33 million were employed, up 1.6% from March.

The labor force participation - the percentage of people aged 15 or older who are in the labor force - rose to 59% in April from 58.7% the month before. Among men, the participation rate was 65%, up from 64.3% in March. Among women, it remained unchanged between the two months at 53.3%.

"To protect the Israelis from the impact of the global [financial] crisis and the danger of mass unemployment, we must ensure economic and fiscal discipline while at the same time encouraging investment in the economy," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said in response to the jobless figures.