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A survey conducted by the Manufacturers Association among dozens of companies found that 81 percent of all companies in the economy distribute bonuses to employees, most (86 percent) on an annual basis.

The vast majority of companies base bonuses on employee performance and company results. A senior manager receives a bonus equal to 1.5 times the monthly salary, mid-management bonuses are 1.1 times the amount and other employees receive an annual bonus of one month's salary.

The survey conducted with Pilat found that many companies pay employees' vehicle maintenance. Of the companies surveyed, 78 percent pay such benefits - most by the kilometer, others based on the employee's seniority, and some pay a uniform amount to all employees - and 41 percent of all companies gross up this benefit for sales personnel.

The economy's recovery over the past year is evidenced in salaries - 40 percent of all companies raised salaries, and 8 percent increased work hours. After a salary increase of 4.3 percent in 2005 over the previous year, salaries increased 3.9 percent this year as compared to 2005. The increase was affected by the minimum wage increase. The effect of increased salaries on profitability and the increased price of raw materials are a cause for concern among industrialists, and the dropping dollar rate is hitting importers.

In addition, 85 percent of companies also give severance pay to employees who leave by agreement. The average monthly salary of a purchasing manager is NIS 18,260. Added vehicle benefits bring this up to NIS 22,583. A company comptroller receives an average monthly salary of NIS 17,011 plus vehicle benefits, bringing the total to NIS 21,097. The average salary of a production employee is NIS 6,284, and a forklift worker earns an average of NIS 2,206.

Unemployment remained unchanged for the third consecutive month, reaching 8.4 percent in October, according to data publicized yesterday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. By comparison, unemployment was 8.9 percent in October 2005, 9.8 percent in 2004, and 10.8 percent in 2003. Sources in the treasury estimate that the unemployment rate in October 2007 will be 8.4 percent or less.

Decreasing unemployment rates reflect the increasing number of persons employed in free professions, technical professions and industry.