The number of job seekers registered with Employment Service bureaus around the country rose again in July as worker layoffs hit a three-year high of 16,084.

More than 53 percent of individuals who lost their jobs last month were female.

Tel Aviv recorded the greatest number of dismissals with 1,072, while Jerusalem came in second with 803. Not since July 2009, when 16,512 people lost their jobs, has the Employment Service recorded so many dismissals in one month.

There were 211,617 job seekers in the market at the end of July, up 7% from June and a 5% increase from the corresponding month last year. A total of 24,573 individuals became listed as job seekers in July, but the impact of this was tempered somewhat by the hiring of thousands of new workers.

The chances of finding a new job also diminished in July, as the amount of “positions available” listed with the Employment Service dropped 9.2% to 23,400.

The number of jobs advertised rose steadily from 2004- 2011 after decreasing from 2001-2003. However, the monthly average reached only 22,661 in the January- July period this year, a 12.6% decrease compared with the corresponding period in 2011.

These latest figures seem to back up data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics that show the unemployment rate reached 7.2% in July, also a three-year high.

In March, the statistics bureau changed its criteria about what constitutes unemployment to match the criteria of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which Israel joined in 2010. That decision caused an immediate adjustment in the unemployment rate from 5.6% to 6.5%.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has reiterated several times over the past few months that achieving low unemployment will remain one of the government’s two main priorities, along with maintaining strong economic growth.

Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich on Tuesday accused the government of failing to act, saying the wave of layoffs was “not an uncontrollable tsunami.” Just as the government is obligated to prepare for security threats, she said, it must also prepare for “employment threats.”

Writing on her Facebook wall, Yachimovich proposed a number of steps to help reduce employment: ending the awarding of tenders for national infrastructure projects to foreign companies, enacting an assistance fund for struggling factories that was approved by the government in 2009 and ensuring Israeli manufacturers receive preference in tenders for the uniforms of IDF and security personnel.

“Chinese employment should not be our concern,” she said.

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