The relaxation of some of the restrictions on the economy have somewhat eased conditions in Israel's labor market. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics' manpower survey for October, the average broad rate of unemployment in Israel was 20.3%. In absolute terms, 845,500 people out of work, 255,600 (14.2%) more than in September.
The numbers match the forecast by the Bank of Israel, which estimated a few weeks ago that the broad unemployment rate would reach 17-20%.
There is however also reason for cautious optimism: an additional breakdown by the Central Bureau of Statistics examining what happened in the first half of October, in which the economy was under stringent restrictions, and the second half, in which some of the restrictions were removed.
In the first half of last month, the number of people out of work was 937,500 (22.7%), but after the relaxations in the lockdown conditions, the number fell in the second half of the month to 732,500 (18%), a significant improvement, although the numbers are still very high and very worrying.
The broad rate of unemployment combines three groups of unemployed. The first is unemployed people under the classic definition: people aged 15 and over who did not work at all in the week preceding the survey and who are looking for work.
There was some improvement in this In this group in the second half of October in comparison with the first. The number of unemployed people under this definition fell from 205,000 (5.1%) to 192,000 (4.8%). The numbers are however still high, even in comparison with September.
The second layer is workers aged 15 and over who are on unpaid leave. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics' definition, these are "unemployed people who were temporarily absent from work for the entire week for reasons connected to the coronavirus." In this group too there has been an improvement with the partial reopening of the economy, and in the second half of October it numbered 437,000 people, 190,000 fewer than in the first half of the month.
This third and final group consists of people who had lost their jobs since March but were not looking for work in the four weeks preceding the survey, whether because they had despaired of finding any or for other reasons. The situation in this group was almost unchanged: in the first half of October it numbered 105,000, and in the second half 104,000.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 16, 2020
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