Unemployment falls 0.1% in December
The number of unemployed fell by a moderate 0.1 percent in December, to 206,500, from 206,600 in the previous month, continuing the downward trend since July, according to preliminary figures published by the Israel National Employment Service on Monday.
The national unemployment rate in December was 6.8%, according to the preliminary data. Monday marked the first day NES workers returned to regular work after three weeks of labor sanctions following an agreement that was reached with the Finance Ministry over a new labor contract, which will be negotiated over the next two weeks.
"An analysis of the data points to a continued downward trend in December in the number of unemployed and the number of new jobseekers," said Yossi Farhi, director of the NES.
The number of new jobseekers dropped by a preliminary 1.7% in December, to 20,400, compared with a month earlier. Trend data showed that after an average monthly growth rate of 3.4% in the number of new jobseekers in the period from February 2008 to March last year, jobseeker numbers declined by a monthly average rate of 2.2% since last April.
In total 12,411 workers were laid off in December, compared with 14,326 a month earlier and 17,499 during the same month last year. The majority (6,508) of those losing their jobs were men and the remainder (5,903) were women. According to the data, 4,766 of the people who became unemployed in December were between 25 and 34 years old.
At the same time, though, there were few signs of improvement in the number of long-term unemployed. Out of the total number of jobseekers in December, 36%, or 80,090, were registered as unemployed for more than 270 days over the last 12 months.
During December, 222,416 jobseekers were registered at the NES, down from 222,436 in the previous month. Still, seasonally adjusted figures excluding holidays showed that the number of jobseekers rose by 0.5% during December, to 222,900, from 221,700 in November.
During December, requests from employers for workers fell by 2.1%, to 25,600, from 26,100 in November. However, in comparison with the same month last year the demand for workers rose by 9.9%. The greatest demand was for skilled workers in industrial sectors, followed by sales and telemarketing personnel, and security staff.
The highest rate of unemployment, 11.3%, was in the South, followed by the North at 10.5%. The lowest unemployment rates were in Jerusalem and the Dan region, with 4.1% and 4%, respectively. In the Central region the rate of unemployment reached 6.2%.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.4% in November, the lowest since last January, as the country's economic recovery started to create jobs, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported last week. Unemployment dropped from a revised 7.5% in October and rose from 6.6% in the same period of 2008. The unemployment rate averaged 7.7% in 2009, compared with 6.1% in 2008, according to the statistics bureau.
The National Insurance Institute reported at the beginning of the month that the number of new claims for unemployment benefits dropped 4% in December. Since the second half of 2009 there has been a gradual decline in claims for unemployment benefits, which fell from 97,000 in June to 86,000 in December.
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