Ben-Eliezer plans central employment authority

An alternative is needed for "Wisconsin plan" terminated by Knesset; Available jobs up 33 percent.

Ben Eliezer at Afula employment center (photo credit: Yoram Cohen)
Ben Eliezer at Afula employment center
(photo credit: Yoram Cohen)
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer wants the government to establish a nationwide employment authority now that the welfare-to-work program known as the Wisconsin plan has been terminated.
“The developments over the past year have taught us that we need to establish a strong employment authority that will formulate long-term policies on a national level and deal with weak groups in the population who are not participating in the labor market, as well as [address the problem of] vast salary inequalities,” Ben-Eliezer said Tuesday while visiting the Afula Employment Center. “There are no miracle solutions. We need to learn from past mistakes and how we can improve.”
A national employment authority would centralize all employment bodies including the Employment Service, law enforcement and day-care centers, he said. The ministry will appoint a deputy director-general within the next few weeks to supervise the establishment of the employment authority, he added.
One of the main supporters of the Wisconsin plan, Ben-Eliezer is expected to hold a first meeting on Sunday to discuss an alternative plan for the replacement of the welfare-to-work program, which was not extended by the Knesset last week.

Meanwhile, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry research andeconomics department on Tuesday published a report showing that in thefirst quarter of this year the number of available jobs increased by 33percent, and the employment balance (new hiring minus layoffs) improvedfrom the previous quarter.
The figures for the demand forworkers point to continued growth in the number of available positions,from a daily average of 42,600 in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 56,500in the first quarter of 2010, the ministry said. The number ofavailable jobs in the business sector in the first quarter of 2010 roseby 67% compared with the same quarter last year.
“This is thethird quarter in a row during which we are seeing an improvement in thenumber of available positions, in the employment balance and inexpectations,” Benny Pfefferman, the ministry’s head of research andeconomics, said in the report. “We believe there is a change in thelabor market that is expected to continue in the coming quarters.Despite the positive signs in the majority of employment figures, thelevel of available jobs is still significantly lower than the level ofdemand in the years 2006 to 2008.”
An analysis of the data fromthe survey of employers in the business sector in the first quarter of2010 indicated a sharp rise in the employment balance, which waspositive, at 51,000 positions, compared with a positive balance of37,300 in the fourth quarter of last year and a negative balance of45,300 in the same quarter last year.
Pfefferman said thefigures provide further support for expectations of a continued declinein the unemployment rate reported by the most recent data published bythe Central Bureau of Statistics. The latest unemployment figuresshowed that in February, the unemployment rate remained steady at apreliminary 7.3% of the civilian labor force, the same as in theprevious month, after gradually declining since last May, whenunemployment reached a high of 7.9%.
Last month, the Bank ofIsrael revised its forecasts for the economy and the labor market. Thisyear, the economy is set to expand 3.7% faster than the earlierestimate of 3.5%, and the average unemployment rate is expected to dropto 7% from the previous forecast of 7.1%.
The change resulted partly from the relatively sharp decline in unemployment in the last quarter of 2009, the central bank said.
Next year, gross domestic product is expected to increase 4%, and the rate of unemployment to fall to 6.7%.