Jobless rate hits 8% in 2Q

Steinitz says labor market responding very slowly to the positive indicators in the economy.

jerusalem unemployment line 88 248 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
jerusalem unemployment line 88 248
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The unemployment rate rose to 8 percent in the second quarter despite encouraging economic indicators pointing to a recovery, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday. There were 241,000 unemployed in the civilian labor force in the second quarter, up from 228,000, or 7.6%, in the first quarter, as 13,000 more workers joined the ranks of the jobless. The last time the unemployment rate hit 8% was September 2006; it then dropped gradually to a low of 5.9% last August, just before the start of the global economic crisis. The bureau defines an unemployed person as someone who did not work during the surveyed week, actively searched for work during the preceding four weeks and could have begun to work had a job been offered. The Bank of Israel has forecast that the rate of unemployment will rise to 8% by the end of the year, while other economists have said it would be about 9%. The bureau's figures indicated that the unemployment rate among women aged 15 and above rose to 8.2% in the second quarter, up from 8% in the first quarter. The unemployment rate for men aged 15 above rose to 7.9%, up from 7.3%. The unemployment rate rose throughout the country in the first half of the year compared with last six months of 2008. The highest unemployment rate was in Jerusalem, at 9.7%; followed by the North, at 9.1%; the South, at 8.3%; the Haifa area, at 7.2%; the central plain, at 6.9%; and the Tel Aviv area, at 7%. In a quarterly survey on the state of the economy presented to the cabinet on Sunday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the labor market was responding very slowly to the positive indicators in the economy, although recent data published by the Employment Service showed signs of stabilization in recent months. Last week, the Employment Service reported that for the first time since May last year, trend figures for July showed that the number of unemployed did not rise month over month. The number of unemployed stood at 210,410 in July compared with 210,470 in June, the Employment Service said. The number of job seekers in July fell 2.1% in seasonally adjusted terms to 225,600, from 230,500 in June.