Unemployment falls to record-low 5.8%

Economy grew an annualized 4.8% in the first quarter, following an expansion of 7.6% in the previous three months.

June 24, 2011 04:42
1 minute read.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Ministry of Finance spokesperson)

Unemployment fell to an all-time low of 5.8 percent in April, as the economy expanded, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported in preliminary data released Thursday. The previous low was 5.9%, from May to August 2008.

The jobless rate was 5.9% in March and 6% in February, or about 192,000 people, the statistics bureau said.

Unemployment in April last year was 6.7%. Unemployment has been steadily falling since hitting a three-year high of 7.7% in mid-2009.

The economy grew an annualized 4.8% in the first quarter, following an expansion of 7.6% in the previous three months, the fastest face in four years. The Bank of Israel raised its 2011 growth forecast to 5.2% on June 1, from 4.5%, and predicted the jobless rate would drop to 5.8% this year.

In the first quarter of 2011 there were 3,187,000 people in the workforce, the statistics bureau said. About 57.4% of people over the age of 15 are part of the labor force, 62% of men and 53% of women, it said.

“The rate is an indicator for high demand in the economy,” said Alex Zabezhinsky, chief economist at Tel Aviv-based DS Securities & Investments Ltd. “It is unlikely that it will move below the April low in coming months, as most recent leading economic indicators point to a less favorable environment, mainly due to a slowdown in the global economy.”

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz hailed the record-low unemployment as “testament to the success of steps taken by the government and of the strength of the market.”

“Among other things, we are working incessantly to support investment in Israel, expansion of factories and the integration of Arabs and haredim into the workforce, and now we are seeing the results on the ground,” he said in a press statement.

“In April 2009, I declared an historic target of unemployment of under 6 percent within four years,” Steinitz said. It “was achieved in only two years, despite the high jobless rate in Europe and the US.”

The Central Bureau of Statistics usually releases its final monthly unemployment figures a couple of months after the preliminary data.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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