Israel's Jobless Rate Rose in First Half of July 2020

Unofficial figure climbs to 12.3% while official figure holds steady at 5.2%

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A closed restaurant in Tel Aviv, July 2020.
A closed restaurant in Tel Aviv, July 2020. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Israel’s unofficial unemployment rate climbed in the first half of July after dropping sharply in June and is expected to climb further as lockdown measures are reintroduced to cope with the second coronavirus wave.

The Central Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday that the wider definition of the jobless rate that it has been using since the onset of the pandemic rose 12.3% in the first two weeks of July, or 511,000 people.

That was up from 11.8% in the second two weeks of June and about the same as the 12.3% level of the first two weeks. However, it remained far lower than the second half of May when it reached 20.4%, the statistics bureau said,

The number of unemployed using the standard international classification, which doesn’t include workers put on unpaid leave due to the coronavirus – was 5.2% in the second half of July, 210,200 people. The number was slightly higher than the 207,800 in the second half of June but was the same in percentage terms, the bureau said.

However, there were different trends by gender. The official jobless rate for women rose sharply to 5.6% in first-half July from 4.8% in second-half June. For men, the rate fell to 4.8% from 5.5%, the figures showed.

In addition to the 210,200 official unemployed, another 216,700 were classified as “employees temporarily absent from work during the entire week for reasons connected with the coronavirus,” in most cases because they were furloughed. That number grew by 21,000 in first-half July from second-half June and accounted for 5.3% of the Israeli labor force, up from 48% in second-half June the bureau said.

Another 84,100 were counted in the unofficial jobless rate by the statistics bureau in second-half July because they had been laid off since the onset of the pandemic in March but are no longer actively seeking work, which puts them outside the formal definition of unemployed. Their number grew from 80,300 in second-half June, it said.

Israel’s jobless rate is widely expected to show a further rise in the second half of July because, among other reasons, the number of people registered with the National Employment Service looking for work has been growing much faster in recent weeks than the number saying they have found jobs.

The Employment Service says that based on that figure, Israel’s unemployment rate is 21.5%. However, many registrants do not report they have returned to their jobs. The statistics bureau figures, which are based on surveys, are regarded as more authoritative.

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