Share of Israeli Jobless Receiving Benefits Doubles to 12% Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Growth in applications for benefits slows but is seven times the pre-pandemic rate

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Sivan Klingbail
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A woman protesting the government's lack of support for small-business owners, Tel Aviv, April 26. 2020.
A woman protesting the government's lack of support for small-business owners, Tel Aviv, April 26. 2020. Credit: Ofer Vaknin
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Sivan Klingbail

The share of people registering for unemployment benefits who actually lost their jobs, rather than being put on unpaid leave, surged in April to 12% from 6.3% the month before, the Israeli Employment Service said Sunday.

The number registered for benefits grew by 177,400 last month, down from an increase of 850,500 in March, but much higher than the pre-coronavirus numbers of 23,800 in January and 25,800 in February.

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Officials said they expected the trend of growing layoff numbers to continue. Last month, only about 18,000 of those who had been on unpaid leave reported that they had returned to their old jobs, but officials say the real number is probably higher.

In April, the percentage of Israelis 18 and older registered with the employment service ballooned to 27.6% of the labor force, including those laid off and those on unpaid leave. That amounts to about 1.15 million people. Officials said they expected the double-digit rate to remain for at least a few more months.

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