Falling number of job seekers

The number of job-seekers in the last two months has reached its lowest level in the last five years.

The number of job-seekers fell in February, signaling stability in the country's employment level this quarter. The number of Israelis looking for work decreased by 1.9 percent in seasonally adjusted terms in February compared to the previous month, according to results of a survey from the Israel Employment Services (IES) released on Sunday. "In the month of February, the total number of job-seekers fell to 188,400 compared to 203,600 in February 2007 and 191,200 last month," said Yossi Farhi, director-general of the Government Employment Agency. Farhi added that the number of job-seekers in the last two months has reached its lowest level in the last five years. A demographic breakdown of job-seekers, according to the IES survey, revealed that about 42% come from Israel's Arab population, a high number relative to the proportion of the Arab population in Israel, which stands at 19.7%. The number of job-seekers registered as unemployed for more than 270 days over the last 12 months, defined by the Employment Service as "hard-core" job-seekers, constituted 40.1% (75,600) of the total job-seeking population. New job-seekers for the month of February totaled 16,700, of which 65.4% (10,919) were recently laid-off workers, 15.8% (2,632) were claimant job-seekers, and 5.1% (847) were job-seekers recently released from army duty. Meanwhile, according to estimates by the Manufacturers' Association, a growth in the salaries of industrial sector workers of 2%-2.5% is expected for the current year. "The average salary in the industrial sector will reach a total of about NIS 11,300 per month this year, a 'real' increase of 2%-2.5% following last year's increase of 2.7%," said Dafna Aviram-Nitzan, director of the Economic Research and Strategy unit at the Manufacturers' Association. The rate of growth for the last quarter of 2007 shows a steady slowdown in the pace of salary growth as compared to previous quarters. Gradual decrease in salary growth rates can be attributed to higher inflation rates and lower worker productivity in the last year, says Aviram-Nitzan. According to Aviram-Nitzan, the telecommunication industry currently pays its workers the highest monthly salary at NIS 20,359 while the lowest-earning industry is the leather-shoe industry at an average salary of NIS 5,710.