Unemployment Hits 8% in Q2: 241,300 Looking for Jobs

Unemployment rose again in the second quarter, to 8% of the civilian workforce.

Central Bureau of Statistics figures released yesterday showed there were 241,300 unemployed people between April and June, an increase of 13,000 from the first quarter of the year, when unemployment averaged only 7.6%.

A higher percentage of women are unemployed than men, 8.2% compared to 7.9%.

The number of unemployed has grown by 66,400 over the past year - a 38% rise.

The total number of employed people passed the 3 million mark for the first time in the second quarter, reaching 3,009,000, an increase of 1.8% from the previous quarter.

Of Israelis over age 15, 57.5% are in the civilian workforce. Men outnumber women - the workforce includes about 1.6 million men and 1.4 million women.

The largest number of job losses were in industry, at 10,200. Other sectors losing jobs were (in order): public administration, food and lodging, education, and retail and wholesale. Construction jobs also disappeared. But some businesses were hiring: 6,900 new communal service workers were hired. The financial sector, including the banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions, also added jobs. Health and welfare jobs also picked up.

College graduates fared worse than those with less education in the first half of 2009. The largest number of new jobs, 15,300, went to unskilled workers, not professionals.

The Jerusalem region had the worst unemployment, 9.7% for the first half of the year. Unemployment in the north was 9.1%; the Haifa region, 7.2%; the center of the country, 6.9%; Tel Aviv, 7%; and the south 8.3%.

A person was defined as unemployed if he or she did not work for even a single hour in the week of the employment survey, but was actively looking for work during the four preceding weeks. The person also had to be available to start work that same week, in order to meet the statistics bureau's definition of involuntarily unemployed.

The Knesset Finance Committee will hold a special session to discuss the new unemployment figures next week.

Zvi Zrahiya contributed to this report.