The number of job seekers registered with the Employment Service rose a seasonally-adjusted 1.0 percent in August, to 236,432 from 230,248 in July, but was still just under the 237,131 registered in August 2004, according to data released by the service on Thursday.
Of those seeking employment, 16.4% were from development towns and 22.4% were Arabs.
The 213,566 individuals registered as "unemployed" job seekers counting more than two days of unemployment during the month grew by less than 1% in seasonally adjusted terms, from 212,378 in July.
The "hard core" of unemployed registered with the Employment Service those counting more than 270 days without work over the past 12 months sank to 73,500 from 82,900, as roughly 16,000 welfare recipients were transferred to the care of welfare-to-work offices of the Mehalev program (also known as the Wisconsin Plan). The proportion of hard-core unemployed among job seekers had been rising steadily, to 36% in July and 33.4% in August, from 9.6% in January 2002.
The number of welfare applicants dropped nearly 0.2% monthly on average in the autumn of 2004, having slowed significantly from a peak of roughly 5.5% monthly growth in June-September 2003.