A record of 20,072 people lost their jobs in March, the highest-ever number in a single month, the Employment Service reported Sunday. "In March, the number of layoffs reached a new high from its January record of 19,700 layoffs, passing 20,000 for the first time," Employment Service director Yossi Farhi said. "Preliminary figures for March show that 20,072 employees who lost their jobs were seeking for work at the Employment Service, compared with 17,830 during the pervious month and 11,856 during the same month last year," he said. Regions with the highest rate of layoffs in March were the Dan region with 6,626, the North with 4,719, the Sharon region with 3,370 and the South with 3,096. In Jerusalem, 2,261 workers lost their jobs in March. Gender analysis showed that 11,100 men and 8,972 women were laid off in March. Over the past six months more than 100,000 workers lost their jobs. Recent data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics showed that the rate of unemployment surged from 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year to 6.8% this January. The Bank of Israel expects the rate of unemployment to exceed 8% this year. US employment figures published over the weekend showed that the unemployment rate leaped to a 25-year high of 8.5% in March. Meanwhile, the Metal, Electrical and Infrastructure Industries Association warned Sunday that without government intervention 10,000 workers would lose their jobs by the end of the year. This year sales in the industry are estimated to drop by 20% to NIS 55.2 billion, compared with last year, due to the global economic crisis and a recession in the local economy. The number of employees in the industry is expected to decline by 10% this year to 92,000 workers, from 102,000 last year. "Our industry is facing an emergency situation," association chairman Moshe Cohen said Sunday at a press conference in Tel Aviv. "Since last September, 3,500 workers have lost their jobs, and another 10,000 employees are expected to be laid off after the Pessah holiday until the end of the year. This is an optimistic outlook. "There are solutions and investment projects into infrastructure. There is much talk, but the government is not acting. The question is not what to do but when. We are trying to keep our workers as long as possible, in particular technical staff, which is hard to get back, but time is running out. The time to act is now." Cohen called upon the new government and finance minister to quickly investment NIS 80 billion into infrastructure projects, in partnership with the private sector, which he said could create 16,000 new jobs. The program he recommended includes: investment of NIS 9b. into water projects such as desalination plants, which would be 60% state-financed; transportation projects for roads and trains, at an investment of NIS 13.2b., fully state-financed; energy projects for the establishment of four power plants, at an investment of NIS 15b.; and natural-gas projects, at an investment of NIS 1.5b., in a public-private partnership.