Jobseeker numbers up 2.2% last month

There has been a dramatic rise in university graduates seeking employment.

The number of people looking for jobs rose 2.2 percent in seasonally adjusted terms in November, while the number of university graduates seeking work jumped 10.7%, the National Employment Service reported Tuesday. "To our regret, the dramatic increase in the number of laid-off employees in the labor market in general and of university graduates in particular is continuing to take its toll, as shown in the higher figures this month," said Yossi Farhi, director-general of the Employment Service. During November the number of jobseekers was 198,400 in seasonally adjusted terms, up from 194,000 in October. The raw figures, without the seasonal adjustment, show that last month 24,000 jobseekers were added, out of which 16,500 were laid-off workers. In the same month, the number of university graduates seeking employment increased by a dramatic 10.7%, adding 1,600 and bringing the total to 23,600. In an effort to stem the wave of layoffs across the economy in general and in factories in particular, the Israel Manufacturers Association on Tuesday proposed a government-supported four-day work model it said would make it possible to retain workers and keep production running, and avert factory closures. Under the the model suggested by Eli Yaffe, chairman of the Metals and Electrical Industries Association, factories facing financial stress that are unable to send workers on "vacation" would switch to a four-day week. For the fifth day, those workers who have used all of their vacation days would be eligible for payment by the National Insurance Institute. Speaking at the Hotel Association conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Shraga Brosh, president of the Israel Manufacturers Association, said the association expected 65,000 workers to be laid off in 2009, but that the shortened working week model could bring down the number by 70%. The global crisis is badly affecting the metals and electronics industry, Yaffe said. A recent survey carried out by the association among 113 factories found that since the outbreak of the crisis in September, growth prospects for the industry have deteriorated, following years of fast growth. About 28% of the surveyed factories reported layoffs amounting to a total of 1,000 workers over the past four months. The credit crisis is making it difficult for 36% of the surveyed firms to get credit lines because of more difficult guarantee terms and other conditions demanded by the banks. In addition, 33% of the factories reported a slowdown in orders and 27% said they experienced a downturn in exports, which they expected to continue in the near-term. Separately, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni met with Histadrut Labor Federation chairman Ofer Eini on Tuesday to discuss ways to cope with expected future layoffs and growth in unemployment. "In a period of crisis all relevant sides of the economy must work closely together to minimize potential damage to the man on the street," Livni said. "The planned stimulus measures formulated by the government are important, and therefore bureaucratic obstacles need to be removed so they can be implemented as soon as possible."