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Israel’s unemployment rate soars to highest in three years

JERUSALEM, Nov. 24 (JTA) – Israel’s unemployment rate has reached its highest level in three years, soaring to 8.1 percent, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. According to the bureau, third-quarter figures were the highest since the same rate was recorded in the first quarter of 1994. The number of unemployed rose to 179,000, up from 169,000 in the second quarter of the year. The civilian labor force totaled 2.2 million. Jacob Frenkel, governor of the Bank of Israel, blamed structural reforms in the economy for the increase. He defended the bank’s policy of monetary restraint, saying that it was necessary in order to maintain the government’s inflationary goals of 7 to 10 percent.