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2,400 workers hired in 4Q; demand for hi-tech employees grows

March 15, 2010. Jerusalem Post: Sharon Wrobel

The industrial sector hired 2,400 workers in the fourth quarter of 2009, encouraged by accelerated growth and a faster-than-expected recovery of the economy, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported Sunday.

The number of workers in the industrial sector rose 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter, but there were 5.4% fewer employees than in the last quarter of 2008, the report said.

The number of working hours in the industrial sector rose 0.7% in the fourth quarter after six consecutive quarters of declines at an accumulative rate of 9%. Due to renewed hiring, the number of available positions in the industrial sector fell an average of 7% in December and January, the report said.

The number of workers in the industrial sector fell 4.7% in 2009 compared with 2008. The decline was led by a wave of layoffs in which 17,200 people lost their jobs, out of which two-thirds were in traditional industry.

Some 1,490 new employees, or 62%, found work in traditional sectors such as food (1,135), textiles, clothing, wood and furniture (420).

About 430 new workers were hired within the mixed hi-tech sector, which includes the chemical, pharmaceutical, machinery and electronic-equipment industries.

More than 400 workers found jobs in the metal, rubber and plastic industries.

Meanwhile, demand for hi-tech workers increased in February for the tenth consecutive month, Manpower Israel, a human-resources company, reported Sunday. The Manpower Information Technologies Index showed that demand for hi-tech workers in February rose 5.4% compared with January and was up 31.1% compared with last February.

The sharpest rise in demand was for hi-tech executives, which rose 13.8% compared with January and surged 135.7% compared with February 2009.

There was also strong demand for software-development project managers and for experienced Java programmers, including veterans of IDF technology units, the report said. Operating-systems developers and mobile Internet quality-assurance developers were also in high demand. Salaries for these positions rose 5% to 7% in February.

Last week, Bank Leumi said the continued expansion in the economy in recent months, especially the last quarter of 2009, would bring down the unemployment rate.

“On the back of strong growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, we expect the economy to grow at a rate of 3.5% this year and business-sector growth to expand at a rate of 4%, which in turn will further bring down the unemployment rate to an annual average of 7% from 7.4% in the last quarter of last year,” Bank Leumi chief economist Gil Bufman said in a report. “This means that the unemployment rate should fall below 7% over the course of the year.”

Last week, the Central Bureau of Statistics revised growth figures for the last quarter of 2009, from a preliminary 4.4% in annualized terms to 4.9%. The economy expanded 0.7% for the year, faster than the previous estimate of 0.5%, the statistics bureau reported.

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