The current economic troubles are making themselves felt in Israel's southernmost city, with the number of people seeking work in Eilat up by 30 percent over the same period last year, according to figures from the Israeli Employment Service. Some 1,601 people were registered as job-seekers in Eilat in January this year, compared with 1,232 in January last year, reports www.mynet.co.il.
According to the report, the numbers represent only those who registered with the employment bureau, and not the "tens and possibly hundreds" who have not registered, including recently released soldiers and the long-term unemployed who have lost their rights. The report said the "worrying" rise comes in addition to Eilat's regular waves of seasonal unemployment and under-employment, caused by hotels firing workers, forcing them to take extended unpaid vacations, or reducing their hours and their pay during dips in tourism.
An unidentified hotel employee said Eilat's hotels seemed to be at their usual capacity for this time of year, but were "taking advantage" of the economic crisis to force employees to work fewer days per week for lower salaries, although their workloads were being kept the same and were simply being compressed into less time. "This causes pressure on us, but even worse creates an atmosphere that is not healthy and gives us the feeling that we are being used," the employee said.
The report said some shops in the city were also reducing employees' hours, forcing people to seek full-time work elsewhere so that they could earn enough to feed their families. No comment was reported from the hotel industry or store owners.