Israel’s unemployment rate drops slightly but remains well above pre-pandemic level
Israel’s overall unemployment rate edged down last month, but remains high from pre-COVID-19 levels, according to a new report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Sunday.
The overall unemployment rate stood at 7.8% in the second half of August 2021, down slightly from 8.1% in the first half of the month. This figure includes people made redundant or whose workplaces have closed since March 2020 due to the pandemic, as well as people on unpaid leave who plan to return to their workplaces.
A total of 333,500 people were either unemployed or on unpaid leave due to COVID-19 in the second half of August, according to CBS, up from 349,600 in the first half of the month.
The unemployment rate, excluding people affected by the pandemic, stood at 5.6%, against 5.3% in the first half of August.
Before the pandemic, an estimated 150,000 Israelis, or 3.5%, were unemployed.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday welcomed the new figures and appeared to tie them to a broader government move to avoid another lockdown. Israel remains wide open, with some restrictions, amid a fourth wave of infections caused by the Delta variant.
“When the country is open, unemployment goes down,” Bennett said in a statement released by his office on Sunday.
“Hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs expect us not to give in to the growing mentality of drastic and destructive lockdowns and restrictions,” he added, calling for “to persist in the politics of living alongside the coronavirus, and to find solutions instead of undermining livelihoods in general.
Israel has some restrictions in place, such as limits on gatherings, but Bennett has resisted tougher measures, even as the number of COVID patients requiring ventilators has recently reached levels not seen in Israel in months.
According to a report released on Saturday, Bennett refused to impose more restrictions on gatherings, arguing it would hurt the economy and not reduce morbidity.
“Government policy is an open Israel alongside a relentless and sophisticated war on the virus. Not quarantines, lockdowns, more and more restrictions, which is the easiest thing to do, but solutions, ”Bennett said, according to the Ynet news site.
He reportedly told Israel’s HMO leaders that their goal was to keep pushing vaccinations.
Tensions between health officials and cabinet members have reportedly increased in recent days as officials warned of the need for further restrictions on the public, which ministers have resisted.
As of August 2021, there were currently over 134,000 vacancies nationwide, indicating a gap between employers and job seekers, and a need for retraining for some of those who do not. part of the working population.
The vacancy rate remained high in the hospitality industry, as well as in engineering and web development.
In July, the government ended unemployment benefits for most people under the age of 45 who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, following a stormy Knesset session.
At the time, the National Insurance Institute said Israel had paid more than 39 billion shekels ($ 12 billion) in unemployment benefits to 1.2 million Israelis since the start of the pandemic. .
According to the National Insurance Institute, anyone who became unemployed after July 1 would be assessed under standard unemployment laws that existed before COVID. But the period of time an employee must have worked before they can claim unemployment has been reduced from 12 months to six months.
Luke Tress contributed to this report.