Israel received two items of positive economic news Thursday, as the Central Bureau of Statistics reported that home construction starts had grown in the first nine months of the year, while unemployment fell below 6% last month.
The bureau said that construction began on 32,293 new homes in January-September, up 5.5% from 30,621 in the same period last year. The Jerusalem district saw the biggest increase in building, with 2,522 starts, up from 1,537 the same time in 2012, it said.
“The number of homes actively under construction is at its highest in 16 years and the amount measured by floor space being built is at an all-time high, mainly because the size of homes is increasing,” said Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel in response to the figures.
The government is under pressure to stem the rise in home prices, and most experts say that the solution is to increase the supply of homes by encouraging more building.
Meanwhile the statistics bureau said the jobless rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 5.9% in October, from 6% in September. The decline comes after a steady drop in the rate since April, when it reached 6.8%.
The drop in the jobless rate also came as the percentage of Israel’s adult labor force holding or actively seeking a job rose to 63.8% for the month, from 63.4% in September, the statistics bureau said.