Despite COVID-19 vaccine, Israel's unemployment to stay high - Leumi

A potential third lockdown due to morbidity rates will lead to higher unemployent rates.

A beggar sits and asks for money amid the coronavirus crisis, Jerusalem, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A beggar sits and asks for money amid the coronavirus crisis, Jerusalem, 2020
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Bank Leumi economists predicted that unemployment levels are expected to remain high during the first half of 2021, despite the steady increase in the number of Israelis returning to work and the Wednesday arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines.
The economists said that a recent increase in the COVID-19 infection rate is expected to lead to a third lockdown of some sort during the winter holidays. Such a step would spell a return to higher unemployment levels, despite promises by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israelis would be able to get vaccinated starting December 27.  
The report warns that the developed world will not see a critical mass of COVID-19 vaccinated citizens until the last third of 2021. Until that time, societies will need to go on living with the coronavirus and use their accumulated experience to offer better prevention methods and improved medical care to those who have contracted it.  
As 2020 comes to an end, the State of Israel is looking at a deficit of NIS 136.4 billion; a year ago it was NIS 37.3b. The figure is expected to go even higher by New Year’s Eve, reaching 12% of the GDP, the report predicted.  
The authors point out that, without a new budget being approved, they expect the government to continue ruling using “black boxes,” a special measure to use state money outside of an approved budget in time of emergency, and to rely on a continuation of the last-approved budget from 2019.
“Facing the option of another election,” they write, “the first steps of applying growth-engines to the economy are expected to show results only in late 2022 and 2023.”  
While few would argue against offering unemployed Israelis further education to re-enter the workforce, the Finance Ministry hasn’t yet revealed how it intends to offer such courses. This after Finance Minister Israel Katz wrested that responsibility away from Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Itzik Shmuli and insisted his own ministry would create such a training center.  
Despite a budget for such courses being approved in June, months are expected to pass until the unemployed will receive vocational training, TheMarker reported on Thursday.  
The Bank Leumi report added however that “all sectors predict an increase in activity during December.”