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Demand for workers in the business sector during the first quarter of 2007 was the highest in 10 years, a survey by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's Planning, Research and Economics Administration revealed yesterday. The administration's director, Benny Pfefferman, this great demand points to significant improvement in the labor market, in the wake of economic growth. The improvement is also expressed in a decline in layoffs, growth in the number of people leaving their workplace at their own initiative, and an increase in employer difficulties in filling open positions, he noted.

"The labor market's positive situation includes most branches within the business sector and all regions, especially the North," Pfefferman said. The market's growing strength can also be seen in the high rate of factories and businesses expecting operations to grow, and that they will continue to absorb new workers in the second quarter of 2007, according to Pfefferman.

The average number of open positions in the economy (discounting the agricultural and construction industries) on a daily basis was 48,000 during the first quarter of 2007 - 11 percent higher than the last quarter of 2006 and 29.5 percent higher than during the parallel. Meanwhile, the number of laid-off workers declined 16.2 percent compared to the previous quarter.

Employers are currently recruiting primarily for permanent jobs, and therefore the rate of permanent positions, relative to other positions, filled during the first quarter of 2007 rose to 58.1 from 55.2 percent in the last quarter of 2006, said Pfefferman.