Joblessness in Israel Exceeded 12% Ahead of Latest Rise in Coronavirus Cases

Figures put at 507,000 the number of people who were deemed unemployed in the first two weeks of June

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Tel Aviv's Employment Bureau.
Tel Aviv's Employment Bureau.Credit: Dudu Bachar
Avi Waksman
Avi Waksman

Israel’s unemployment rate, using the new definition that includes people without jobs as well as those on unpaid leave, was 12.2% in the first half of June, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday. 

The figure marked the first time the bureau updated its jobless statistics on a biweekly basis as part of an effort to keep abreast of a labor market undergoing rapid changes due to the pandemic. Until now, it had been issuing monthly unemployment figures.

An office of Israel's National Insurance (Bituach Leumi) in Haifa.Credit: Itzik Ben-Malki

However, even they are being updated more frequently, the latest bureau figures predate the resurgence in coronavirus cases.The bureau said 507,000 people were deemed unemployed in the first two weeks of June, of which 210,600 come under the previous formal definition of unemployed. By that definition, Israel’s jobless rate was 5.2% of the labor force, compared with 3% to 4% in the months before the onset of the virus.

The number on unpaid leave reached 213,600, or 5.3% of the labor force, a sharp drop from the 34% in the first week of April when the lockdown first went into force, the bureau said. The bureau only includes in its tally workers who were on leave for an entire week for reasons connected with the pandemic.

Those two categories add up to a jobless rate of 10.5%, the bureau said. In addition, there were another 83,100 Israelis who have been laid off since the start of March but aren’t actively searching for work and therefore are not formally considered part of the labor force.

Including them boosts the total unemployment rate to 12.5%. Israel’s labor force participation rate declined to 63% in first-half June from 64% in the first two months of 2020.

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