Unemployment drops to pre-crisis level
The unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent of the civilian labor force in the second quarter, close to its level before the global economic crisis, as economic growth accelerated, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday.
“The employment figures show that unemployment has slowed down and is returning to levels before the global economic crisis,” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Tuesday. “Unemployment rose at a fast pace at the beginning of 2009, but the government managed to stem the growth thanks to a combination of sound policies and a flexible private sector. However, despite the optimism, we need to be cautious because the crisis in the developed world isn’t behind us. The government needs to maintain fiscal discipline and fully implement the Treasury’s plans to encourage employment as laid out in the state budget 2011-12.”
The unemployment rate declined for a fourth consecutive quarter to 6.2% in the April-June period, down from 7% in the first quarter, the statistics bureau reported. It was the lowest level since 6% in the third quarter of 2008.
Unemployment among men dropped to to 6.5% in the second quarter, down from 7.2% in the first quarter; among women it fell to 5.9%, down from 6.7%.
Unemployment has declined gradually from a peak of 7.9% in May 2009. The economy grew at a faster rate than expected in the second quarter.
Gross domestic product grew a preliminary 4.7% in seasonally adjusted terms, after expanding 3.6% in the first quarter and 4.3% in the fourth quarter of 2009.
“There was phenomenal growth in the second quarter, especially in export companies, as well as retail firms,” Yaniv Hevron, head of macro-strategy at Ramat Gan-based Excellence Nessuah Investment House, said Tuesday. “It’s logical that companies were hiring.”
About 191,000 people had jobs in the second quarter, down from 218,000 in the first quarter. Workforce participation was 56.9% in the second quarter, up from 56.5% in the first quarter.
There were about 18,000 fewer full time employees in the second quarter, down 1% from the first quarter. There were about 54,000 more part-time employees, working less than 35 hours a week, up 6.5% from the first quarter.
The number of involuntary part-time workers rose 6.4% to 121,000 in the second quarter, or 4.2% of the civilian labor force, compared with 4% in the first quarter.
The Employment Service reported last week that layoffs had increased nearly 10% in July to 14,180, while the number of job seekers fell 0.3%.
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