The unemployment rate in Haifa rose from 6.5 percent in the summer of 2012 to 7.6% last fall, according to data the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Haifa and the North released.

Although there had been a slight improvement in the North over the last year and unemployment in the region decreased from 9.7% to 9.3%, the figures are still particularly high compared to the 6.9% unemployment rate in the rest of the country and Tel Aviv’s 5.6%.

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President of the Chamber, Dr. Gad Shefer, said that the data is alarming, given an economic slowdown is expected this year.

“Unfortunately, we know from past experience that the production costs for businesses in the periphery are higher due to geographical distance,” he explained, “They are the first to pay the price of the slowdown and the results are an increase in unemployment, especially in areas where there are very few job options.”

Shefer said steps need to be taken immediately to improve the situation including state aid. He further explained that small businesses represent a large employment potential that could solve the problem.

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