Number of Registered Jobless Fell in October, but Share of Young Workers Hits Record High

Employment Service says job market recovering faster from second lockdown than from first

Tali Heruti-Sover.
Tali Heruti-Sover
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Hotel staff gather outside the Greek interior ministry demanding the government expand income support schemes as they face a tourism season hit by the coronavirus pandemic, in Athens, May 22, 2020.
Hotel staff gather outside the Greek interior ministry demanding the government expand income support schemes as they face a tourism season hit by the coronavirus pandemic, in Athens, May 22, 2020.Credit: Petros Giannakouris / AP
Tali Heruti-Sover.
Tali Heruti-Sover

The number of Israelis registered for unemployment benefits dropped in October as the second lockdown ended. But the number of young people applying for benefits reached a record high, as did the number who lost their jobs rather than being put on unpaid leave, the National Employment Service reported on Sunday.

The number of new job seekers reached 108,500 last month, down sharply from 249,500 in September when the government imposed a second lockdown amid sharply rising numbers of new coronavirus cases.

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In the meantime, 91,400 people receiving benefits during October reported that they had gone back to their jobs, most of them after the second lockdown ended mid-month. That’s a more than 2.5-fold increase from 35,500 the previous month, the Employment Service said.

By the end of October, the number registered with the service was 940,300, down from 956,000 a month earlier. Of those 940,300, nearly two thirds reported that they were on unpaid leave. However, 16.1% said they had been laid off, a higher share than during the first lockdown last spring.

The service warned that the growing share of unemployed could presage an increase in long-term unemployment even after the rest of the job market recovers. “Every wave of unemployment makes it more difficult for those who fail to return to work, and their risk of descending into chronic unemployment increases,” it said in a statement.

Although large parts of the economy remain closed, economic activity has recovered more quickly after the second lockdown than after the first. The Employment Service said it saw evidence of this in that the ratio of new applicants for benefits to those returning to work was 1.2, far lower than the 3.4 last April when the first lockdown was winding down.

The worrying news from the October report was the rising number of young workers – those aged 24 or under – registered for jobless benefits. In September their share of all those registered broke the 20% barrier for the first time to reach 20.7%. Last month, their share grew to 21.7%. The share of workers age 25 to 34 also climbed in October, to 30.7%, from 29.2% the month before.

The youngest workers have been among the hardest hit because they are more likely to work in stores, restaurants and bars, all of which remain wholly or partly closed, the Employment Service noted.

Women continued to account for a majority of job seekers, reaching 56% in October. But they also accounted for even bigger shares of those returning to work – 63.1% in September and 64.2% in October. Israeli Arabs accounted for a much smaller share of those registering, compared with the first lockdown. In October they comprised just 19.2% of applicants, lower than their share of Israel’s working-age population and down sharply from 24.4% of the total last April. However, their share of people returning to work last month was just 13%, the service said.

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