Jobless rate falls to lowest in 2 decades
Israel's unemployment rate fell in May to the lowest in about two decades, reflecting economic growth that has topped 5 percent since 2004.
The jobless rate declined to 6.1% from 6.2% in April and 7.4% in May 2007, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Wednesday.
"We'll see the labor market strong until the end of the year," said Ori Greenfeld, the chief economist at Clal Finance Investment Management. "It's reflecting the top of the Israeli business cycle when the market was doing great, growth was very high, exports were very high and inflation was low."
Unemployment has been falling since peaking at 11% in 2004 as the economy expands, powered by exports. Economic growth is forecast to slow to 4.2% this year, according to the central bank. Unemployment is the lowest since the late 1980s, according to the CBS.
A slowdown in the rate of manufacturing growth in the March- May period is the first "serious signal" that economic expansion is beginning to ease, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said Monday. Industrial production rose an annual 6.8% in the three-month period, slowing from 11.9% in the December-February period, according to the CBS.
Fischer is trying to balance a slowing economy with efforts to control inflation, which accelerated to a 51⁄2-year high of 5.4% in May and has exceeded the government's 1%-3% target range for the past seven months.
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