Israel's Third Coronavirus Lockdown Sent Unemployment Back Up

Nati Tucker
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The Israeli Employment Service's offices, 2018.
The Israeli Employment Service's offices, 2018.Credit: ‪Gal Malka
Nati Tucker

Israel’s third lockdown, which began December 27, caused the broad unemployment rate to spike to 13.7% in the second half of the month, according to the jobs report issued Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

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In the last two weeks of December about 22,000 employees were placed on unpaid leave, raising the number of unemployed workers to around 560,000.

The labor market had begun to recover in the first half of December, after many of the coronavirus restrictions on businesses were eased. The unemployment rate fell to 12.7%.

However, the surge in new COVID-19 infections and the cabinet resolution imposing a new lockdown from December 27 led to the jump in the broad unemployment rate, which includes people who are not actively looking for work, at year’s end. At the beginning of January, additional restrictions were imposed and the school system was shut down.

According to data from the bureau, the narrow unemployment rate, which includes only people who are actively job-hunting, remained stable at 4.9% – around 200,000 people. The number of workers furloughed during the pandemic, reached around 240,000. The number of workers who have been fired or lost their business during the pandemic and are no longer are looking for work rose to 124,000.

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