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Unemployment shows first drop since crisis began

October 20, 2009. Globes: Adrian Filut and Shay Niv

For the first time since the start of the economic crisis in September 2008, Israel's unemployment rate has declined. The Central Bureau of Statistics reports today that the unemployment rate fell to 7.6% of the civilian labor force, 228,000 people, in August 2009.

This means that in the 12 month period (September 2008-August 2009), there were 46,000 net new unemployed persons.

The Central Bureau of Statistics also revised its unemployment figures to 7.8% in June and 7.7% in July, down from the previous figure of 7.9% for both months.

The Central Bureau of Statistics figures clearly show the rapid rise in the unemployment from its low point of 6% in August 2008 to a peak of 7.9% in April-May 2009, when it stabilized, and then began to fall in June.

There were 179,000 unemployed at the start of the economic crisis, and the number rose to 182,000 in September 2008, peaked in April, and declined to 228,000 in August 2009.

While high, Israel's current unemployment figures are not as severe as in OECD countries. According to the OECD, the average unemployment rate in member states in August was 8.5%. It was 9% in the EU and 9.5% in the US.

The Bank of Israel predicts that the unemployment rate will reach 8.5% by the end of 2009, amounting to 255,000 persons. The forecast means an additional 28,000 unemployed. However, in view of the latest Central Bureau of Statistics figures, the Bank of Israel may revise its own unemployment and growth projections.

Today's announcement by the Central Bureau of Statistics is preliminary trend data based on the Labor Force Survey, and should be viewed with caution. The monthly figures are frequently revised as final figures come in and are analyzed.

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