Joblessness in Israel Reaches a Three-year Record High

Unemployment nationwide has reached a three-year record high, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported yesterday. According to their figures, joblessness rose by 45 percent during the past nine months, from 27,000 at the beginning of the year to 85,000 now, a rise from 4.9 percent of the work force to 5.9 percent.

According to the Bureau, the present rate of unemployment is the worst since the period of economic slowdown that preceded the 1967 Six-Day War. The situation, some economic analysts noted, is in stark contrast to Likud statements during the preelection campaign that the trend toward higher unemployment would be halted, if not reversed.

Bureau figures showed that unemployment among women is considerably higher — 7.2. percent — than it is among men — 5.2 percent. In a number of development towns, the percentage of men seeking work is considerably higher than the national average, in some cases more than 15 percent of eligible male workers. A Bureau spokesman said that the exact numbers of the unemployed and the total work force during the nine-month period surveyed were still being collated.

Employment agency officials said that full employment continues in most high-tech industries, with a strong demand for engineers and skilled workers in many fields. They said most of the unemployed are among the unskilled and semi-skilled.

The unemployment rate is part of the nation’s growing economic woes which include a 408 percent annual inflation, a rising foreign debt and a decline in the foreign currency reserves. The severe economic problem is one of the sticking points in the negotiations between the Labor Alignment and Likud for the formation of a new government.

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