More employees joined Israel's manufacturing workforce in 2007 than in any other year over the past 35 years, the Manufacturers Association of Israel announced Monday. More than 15,500 people had entered the manufacturing workforce last year, significantly higher than in 2006, Ruby Ginel, director of the association's Economics Division, told The Jerusalem Post Monday. Some 364,000 Israelis were employed in manufacturing, with a majority of them working for traditional technology companies, he said. The manufacturing industry's growth of production was up 4.5 percent in 2007, with $80 billion worth of sales, Ginel said. The hi-tech sector was up 4% last year, a lower rate than in 2006. More than 5,000 workers, or 35% of all new manufacturing employees, began working in the hi-tech sector. If not for the dollar's plummeting value, "growth would be much higher," Ginel said. The Manufacturers Association has in the past warned about the "brain drain" phenomenon in Israel, in which leading scientists and other specialists leave the country for a better quality of life abroad. Ginel said the positive figures released by the association didn't mean that the brain drain threat had failed to materialize, since most of the statistics dealt with technicians and engineers - "the blue-collar workforce" of manufacturing - and not scientists and specialists, "where the knowledge is." In the US the quality of life is 40% higher than in Israel, Ginel said, and in Europe it is 20% higher. "We feel that if we don't point this out, the situation will worsen," he said.