Israel's Unemployment Rate Soared During Second Lockdown

Broadest unemployment rate reached 19.1 percent in second half of September, lower than peak of 26.6 percent in May but well above August's 11.8 percent

Nati Tucker
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A woman wearing face mask walks past closed shops in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2020.
A woman wearing face mask walks past closed shops in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2020. Credit: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
Nati Tucker

The broad measure of unemployment, which counts the jobless and those on unpaid leave, jumped in the second half of September to 19.1 percent as Israel entered a lockdown, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

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Nevertheless, the rate was far lower than the peak of 26.6 percent in the first half of May, during the first lockdown. In the second half of August it had fallen to 11.8 percent.

The traditional unemployment figure, which includes only people over age 15 who have not worked for a single hour in the week prior to the survey but are looking for a job, actually declined in the second half of last month to 4.2 percent, or 165,000 people, from 6 percent in the second half of August, the bureau said.

Where the increase occurred was among workers on unpaid leave due to the coronavirus lockdown who are expected to return to their jobs when it ends. Some 500,000 were on unpaid leave in the second half of September, up from 176,000 in the second half of August.

The third category that comprises the broad jobless measure are people who lost their jobs before the onset of the pandemic last March but are not looking for work due to the crisis. Their numbers also rose sharply to 95,000 from the second half of last month from 65,000 in second-half August, the bureau said.

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