Unemployment rate declines to 7.2% in first quarter

The biggest decline in the number of workers was in the community and social-services sector.

unemployment 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
unemployment 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent of the civilian labor force in the first quarter of the year as the economy grew, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday. It was the third consecutive quarter the unemployment rate has fallen.
“Businesses are hiring again,” Ori Greenfeld, an economist at Psagot Investment House, said Thursday. “The efficiency steps taken during the crisis were actually stronger than needed, and now there is plenty of room for hiring.”
The unemployment rate declined for the third consecutive quarter, down from 7.3% in the fourth quarter and 7.7% in the third quarter of 2009.
There were 5,800 more workers in the first quarter, up 1.5% compared with the same quarter last year.
However, the number of full-time employees declined by 30,000 in the first quarter, or 1.6% compared with the same quarter last year. There were an additional 61,000 part-time workers, up 8.1%.
The number of involuntary part-time workers dropped 1.9% to 113,000 in the first quarter, or 4% compared with the same period last year.
The biggest decline in the number of workers was in the community andsocial-services sector, which dropped to 132,000 workers from 141,000.In the industrial sector, the number of employed fell by 8,000 to397,000. In the public-administration sector, worker numbers dropped by6,000 to 127,000.
In the health-services and agriculture sectors, there were 8,000 moreworkers, bringing employment numbers to 296,000 and 51,000respectively. In the construction sector, 2,000 workers were added tobring the total to 141,000.
“We are confident that the Israel economy is growing,” Daniel Hewitt,an economist at Barclays Capital, wrote this week in a note toinvestors. “High- and medium-technology exports have accelerated in2010, while low-technology exports declined. We retain our 3.5%forecast for real growth in 2010, recognizing downside risks frompossible derailing euro-area growth.”
The Bank of Israel expects the unemployment rate to drop to 7% this year and 6.7% in 2011.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.