Gloomy Forecast on Employment

A gloomy forecast regarding employment in the country was presented to the Cabinet this week by Labor and Welfare Minister Moshe Katzav. He predicted that by the end of the fiscal year, the number of unemployed will total some 150,000, almost 10 percent of the labor force, some 2.5 percent higher than the forecast by the Treasury.

Katzav said the problem was especially acute in the development towns. In August, he reported that some 6,000 people were unemployed for six days or more, some 27 percent of all the jobless.

Minister-Without-Portfolio Yosef Shapira (Morasha) and Interior Minister Yitzhak Peretz (Shas) proposed easing the unemployment rate by decreasing the number of workers from the administered territories and alien workers. According to Peretz, there are presently some 10,000 alien workers in Israel. Katzav proposed that more resources should be granted to government retraining programs. As the Cabinet was meeting, hundreds of workers from the country’s two bus assembly plants demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s office against pending mass dismissals.

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