Since February 2005, salaries have risen by an average of NIS 464, representing an increase of 6.6 percent, as revealed by a study published by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Sunday. In addition, there was an increase in the number of employees in Israel during January and February, representing a 2.4% annual rise. However the report shows that since January, the average monthly wage dropped by nearly 2%, reaching NIS 7,490. Still, nearly a million employees earn less than half of the average salary. The number of legal foreign workers in Israel was 64,300, with Palestinians constituting 14,700 of them. Their average wage in February was NIS 3,916. The highest salaries paid in February, as in prior months, were those of Israel Electric Corp. and Mekorot National Water Company employees, earning NIS 23,999 on average, due to one-time payments, while in January their average monthly wage was "only" NIS 16,503. The lowest ranking average salary was found in agriculture, NIS 4,854, and in the hotel and restaurant businesses, NIS 3,443, equaling the nominal value for minimum wage.