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Israel Facing Unemployment Rate of 10 Percent, Highest in 20 Years

Unemployment in Israel is approaching 10 percent of the work force, the highest in 20 years. A total of 140,000 people are out of work, according to the latest figures released by the Labor Ministry.

The Histadrut labor federation calls the situation “catastrophic.”

Some development towns are reporting 20 percent unemployment. The labor exchanges say as many as 10 technicians are applying for every vacant position.

The problem of joblessness has not reached such proportions since the 1965-67 economic recession. Government officials fear social unrest if the situation worsens.

Histadrut has reacted by calling a two-hour general strike next Sunday. Haim Haberfeld, head of its trade unions department, said the strike is intended as a warning.

“It’s the first strike we have called that is not to demand higher wages or better working conditions, but to force the government to take immediate action to deal with a catastrophic situation of growing unemployment,” Haberfeld said.

But some employers complain they cannot fill existing job vacancies. They are rejected by jobseekers who say “that is not work for a Jew” or who would rather collect unemployment benefits, which are not much lower than current wages.

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