Declarations such as “In the month of October 2013, there was stability in the
unemployment data” generally do not draw loud critiques of economic policy, but
a media snafu managed to turn Wednesday’s monthly report from the Israeli
Employment Service into a political issue.
The service bases its monthly
data on the numbers of people who come in seeking assistance in finding
employment or unemployment benefits. It said that in October there was “no
significant change in comparison to the previous month in the number of job
seekers at the employment service, the number of unemployed and those among them
who were dismissed.”
The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people
was down by 0.2% from the previous month, and the number of dismissed workers
stood at 12,900.
A Ynet article on the report’s figures, however,
reported that 14,420 people had lost their jobs, representing a 28% increase
from September and the greatest rise in unemployment since July, drawing
political outrage over the apparent economic deterioration.
for the disparity is that Ynet reported raw data that was not seasonally
adjusted, imbuing the figures with misleading implications.
course of each year, there is a predictable ebb and flow to employment levels
based on anything from the weather to holidays. More workers are needed during
the September holidays, for example, but the extra workers are let go once the
To make the data easier to compare from month to month and
ensure that there aren’t wild political reactions to the typical employment
patterns that mark seasonal shifts each year, the data is “adjusted” to offset
the expected seasonal fluctuations.
“Ynet took our raw data, where there
is a jump between September and October because of the post-holiday season,” a
spokesman for the Israeli Employment Service explained. “Seasonally there was no
difference between September and October.”
That didn’t stop politicians
from sounding off.
Labor MK Itzik Shmuli slammed Finance Minister Yair
Lapid for “zigzagging” policy that he said harmed the working man. Lapid
recently changed course on his own plans to raise income taxes, canceling the
tax increase in light of improving short-term fiscal conditions.
of his failed policies as finance minister, working peoples’ situations are
worse: more and more people are laid off and those who still have jobs are paid
a pittance, which does not get them through the month,” Shmuli
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon chimed in: “Government intervention in this
wave of unemployment is now necessary, and it is appropriate for Minister Lapid
to establish a fund to support failing factories that provide employment to tens
of thousands of Israelis.”
Layoffs have been in the headlines in recent
weeks, as companies such as Teva Pharmaceuticals, Israel Chemicals and Office
Depot announced plans to shed workers.
Despite warnings from the Bank of
Israel that unemployment will likely rise next year, the most recent
unemployment rate from the Central Bureau of Statistics, which uses regular
labor surveys as the basis of its data, nudged down to 5.9%, the lowest in over
20 years and among the lowest in the West.
Despite its bleak presentation
of the economic situation, the Ynet article acknowledged: “The Israeli economy
created over 27,000 jobs in October, far more than the number of unemployed.”
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