Israel's unemployment rate edged higher in the fourth quarter of 2012, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Thursday.
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The jobless rate for the quarter rose to a seasonally adjusted 6.9%, 0.1% higher than the previous quarter, and also 0.1% higher than the fourth quarter of 2011.
The percentage of people in the workforce over age 15 fell to 63.8% in the final three months of the year, down from 64.2% the previous quarter, according to the bureau, though it remained higher than the same quarter the year before.
The unemployment rate for the month of December was also 6.9%, up from 6.8% in November.
All told, the jobless rate held steady during 2012, even as the economy slowed and the country saw a wave of reported layoffs in the high-tech sector, according to CBS figures. The unemployment rate for the year was 6.9%. Because the bureau changed the way it measures joblessness, it is not possible to accurately compare 2012 figures to those of previous years.
Unemployment is expected to edge higher this year, with the Bank of Israel saying last month that it expects it to reach 7.1% of the labor force. Not counting the impact of natural-gas production coming online from the Tamar field during the year, the central bank expects gross domestic product to expand 2.8% this year, down from 3.3% in 2012.
The number of employees in the high-tech sector reached about 261,000 in 2012, with high-tech industry employing about 109,000 people and high-tech services employing about 153,000. High-tech employees accounted for 8.9% of all employees. Some 168,000 men worked in high tech, compared with just 95,000 women.