Industrialists are upbeat about their prospects for the third quarter, with many anticipating increases in productivity, the hiring of workers and investment, a survey from the Manufacturers Association of Israel shows. "The hiring of workers continued in the second quarter similar to average growth levels since the beginning of 2006," said Ruby Ginel, director of the Economics Division at the Association. "For the third quarter, industrialists expect the hiring of workers and productivity growth to continue." According to the survey, which was released Sunday, 32 percent of the 172 industrial companies responding hired workers in the second quarter, mainly those companies involved in the areas of electronics, building materials, rubber and plastics, while 12% who are involved in food and clothing reported that they fired workers. One-quarter of industrialists expect to hire workers in the third quarter, 7% expect to fire workers and layoffs expected in the clothing business. About half of the industrialists believed output would increase in the July to September period in particular to the local market, while 14% believed it would fall. Ginel added that despite the fluctuations in the shekel-dollar exchange rate, factories had no choice but to continue their export activities at any price, even if profits were cut substantially. For the third quarter, 43% of exporters predicted a slight acceleration in the growth of export orders, while 15% expected a drop in exports. Sales growth to the domestic market in the second quarter of this year accelerated dramatically - to levels not seen since 2000 - for 47% of the surveyed. Furthermore 25% of the industrialists said they expected investments to continue to grow in the third quarter, while 9% expected them to fall. Separately, the government on Sunday approved the proposal by Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai for an employment support program in national preference areas in the periphery, which is expected to create additional 3,000 jobs. Under the terms of the program, businesses will be assisted and strengthened to increase job opportunities.