Last Half of June Saw Rising Employment in Israel, Jobless Rate Drop to 11.8 Percent

Employers are bringing people back to work, but number of furloughed workers stalls, and fears of a renewed coronavirus outbreak could mean the trend reverses in July

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Restaurant owners and workers demonstrate against the Israeli government's coronavirus response, Haifa, July 21, 2020.
Restaurant owners and workers demonstrate against the Israeli government's coronavirus response, Haifa, July 21, 2020.Credit: Rami Shllush
Avi Waksman
Avi Waksman

The number of jobless in Israel dipped to 11.8 percent as of the second half of June, as the government continued allowing the economy to reopen following the lockdown to halt the spread of coronavirus.

There were 483,900 unemployed Israelis in the second half of June, versus 507,300 (12.2 percent) in the first half of the month, and 840,600 (20.4 percent) in the second half of May.

Despite the improvement, the decline in the number of furloughed workers stalled.

Many workers were placed on unpaid leave when the lockdown began in March, causing the number of unemployed and furloughed workers, to exceed 1 million.

Employment figures are expected to worsen again in July, as the government reverted to closing and limiting sectors as coronavirus infection figures worsened. Employment Bureau reports indicate that thousands of workers filed for unemployment every day over the past several days. Between 7 A.M. Tuesday and 7 A.M Wednesday, there were some 2,631 new unemployment claims, and between 3,700 and 4,700 for the two preceding days.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, traditional unemployment data does not accurately represent the current state of the economy. By traditional measures, Israel’s unemployment rate was only 5.2 percent in both the first and second halves of June, a relatively low number. This figure includes some 207,800 “officially” unemployed, but not an additional 195,000 people who were employed but not working – the vast majority of them on unpaid leave. It also does not include another 80,300 people who lost their jobs since March 2020 but have not been looking for jobs, and therefore aren’t considered part of the workforce.

Once all three categories of people are taken into account, Israel’s unofficial unemployment rate is actually around 11.8 percent.

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