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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce projected Monday that the business and commerce sector in Jerusalem would grow some 10 percent this year, despite the fact that statistics showed labor participation in the capital continued to be below the national average.
According to the FICC survey, released ahead of Jerusalem Day, proceeds of the business sector in Jerusalem amounted to NIS 65 billion last year and were expected to grow by 10% in 2007. There were 35,000 businesses active in the city of Jerusalem, it said, of which 81% were in the fields of trade and services, food and hospitality, insurance and financial services.
"Despite Jerusalem's development over the past years, Jerusalem is still suffering from a low labor participation rate of 45% compared with the 55.6% participation rate around the country," said the FICC survey.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, the city is launching an economic task force to promote the capital as a business center and transform it into a thriving economic force that will attract both local and foreign investment. Lev Leviev, the Russian business tycoon has agreed to head a task force of Israel's leading business community, which was inaugurated on Monday night with the participation of hundreds of business people from across all sectors of the economy.
"We intend to bring businesspeople to Jerusalem," Leviev told The Jerusalem Post at the event. "After the launch tonight, we will sit down in teams and structure an action plan."
As to how the government could help make Jerusalem more attractive to the business community, Leviev suggested that it should invest more in the capital's infrastructure, including roads.
"Jerusalem is still the poorest city after Bnei Brak because of the religious and Arabic population, which is not participating in the labor force," said Rafi Mendel, president of the FICC in Jerusalem. "In addition, trade and commerce in Jerusalem was hit hard by the Intifada and only in recent years there are efforts to revive the city anew."
The business sector in Jerusalem employed 124,000 people, of which 75% were employed in the trade and services sector, of which 32% were employed in business services, 31% in trade, 16% in transport and communication, 15% in food and hospitality and 15% in insurance and finance, according to the FICC.
The hotel sector remains one of the most significant employment sectors in Jerusalem, outstripping Tel Aviv and Haifa. In 2006, hotels in Jerusalem employed 4,150 people compared with the 3,000 that were employed in Tel Aviv and 1,000 in Haifa.
Furthermore, more than the majority of business growth in the hotel sector in Jerusalem in 2006 was generated from foreign tourism. Revenues from foreign tourism grew by 12% in Jerusalem last year, compared with 2% growth increase in Tel Aviv and 5% growth increase in Eilat.
In comparison, the industrial sector employed 21,000 people of which 60% were placed in the hi-tech sector according to statistics released by the Manufacturers Association of Israel. The Har Hozvim industrial area, where Intel established its first production factory outside of the US in 1985, has 150 hi-tech companies employing 9,000 people.
The largest factories in Jerusalem include IDT, which employs 1,500 people, NDS with a work force of 1,100 people, the Angel bakery with 750 employees and Teva employing 700 people in Jerusalem, according to the Manufacturers' data.
At the same time, Jerusalem emerged as a stronghold for export production as 46% of the revenues of Jerusalem's industry were generated from exports compared with the national average of 40%.
Meanwhile, statistics released by the National Employment Service, showed that the rate of jobseekers in Jerusalem was 1.5% lower than the national average. From 2005, the number of jobseekers fell 2% in the capital. In March this year, the jobseeker rate in Jerusalem stood at 1.9% compared with the national average of 3.78%. The majority, or 58%, of unemployed in Jerusalem were women and the remainder men.
However, the statistics also showed that the rate of long-term unemployed in the capital increased by 6% since 2005, partly among the over 45 years old population, which the service said are not succeeding in integrating themselves into the labor force.
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