Figures Show Fewer Jobless, but Even Fewer Jobs

For all the upbeat macroeconomic data reported in recent days, the fact is that there are fewer jobs out there for job-seekers.

The number of Israelis seeking jobs fell by 2.1% in July compared with the previous month. But in parallel, the number of jobs available for them to fill dropped by 6%.

"The drop in the number of job-seekers in July compared with June is noteworthy," commented Employment Service director general Yossi Farhi. It's too soon to say that the trend has turned, he stressed, but the situation has improved since the height of the economic crisis at the start of the year.

According to the latest figures from the Employment Service, the number of job-seekers dropped to 225,600 in July, in seasonally-adjusted figures. When compared with July of last year, the number of job-seekers is roughly steady, according to the service's figures.

Jobs are harder to come by this year compared with 2008, the Employment Service's figures show. The monthly average over the last seven months is 21,700, which is down more than 3% compared with the same period of 2008.

Yet not all is lost for the jobless. The Employment Service found positions for 12,500 applicants in July, it reported - but that's down nearly 2% from the previous month, when it found 12,700 placements.

Another sign of the grim state of the labor market is that more than 16,500 Israelis lost their jobs in July, compared with 15,590 the previous month and 14,464 in May. However, things were even worse at the height of the economic crisis, from December 2008 to March 2009. During that period, 18,750 people a month were being fired, on average.

Earlier this month, media reports said that technology company Comverse is planning to fire hundreds of workers, beyond the 300 it let go worldwide in March. The latest round of layoffs is expected in October or November this year, after the High Holy Days.

Last week TheMarker reported that Commex, a member of the RAD Bynet technology group, is letting go the remaining half of its staff, leaving it with just 15 workers.

On the bright side, Intel Israel has been hiring. The company, which is the biggest employer in the Israeli technology scene with 6,470 workers, reported hiring dozens more this year, from students to seasoned engineers for its local development and production centers. The company expects to continue hiring, it says, for its development centers in Haifa, Jerusalem, Petah Tikva and Yakum. That said, in March this year, Intel Israel fired 40 people from its Corporate Services department.

Among the worst-hit unemployment hot spots are Arab towns. In the Negev town of Rahat, unemployment is running at nearly half the adult workforce - 42.5%.