Ministry: Unemployment Low, No Matter How You Count It

Computer course that is career specific to help Ultra orthodox Jews find employment at Panim Meirot Institute Jerusalem 06/02/08 Photo by Yossi Zamir /Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ???? ?????? ???? ??? ???? ????? ??? ??????? ????? ?????
Participant in a job training course. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Unemployment in Israel stood at 4.7 percent in July, the lowest in the country’s history, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday. The new rate was a tenth of a percentage point lower than June’s rate. Participation in the workplace was also improved, with 64 percent of all those 15 and older working, an improvement of two tenths of a percentage point in July over the previous month.

The unemployment rate in Israel is among the lowest in the Western world, in fact – no matter how you count it, according to the Finance Ministry. Some economists have claimed that the figures issued by the CBS are “cooked,” and do not include several population groups that, if included, would drive up the unemployment rate statistic significantly. That may be correct, the Ministry said – but even taking into account the “expanded” definition of unemployment, Israel is still doing better than nearly all other OECD countries.

In Israel, as in most countries, “unemployed” people are those counted as actively looking for a job. The statistics on unemployment generally do not include individuals who have given up looking for a job. The Economy Ministry said that when these people are included, the unemployment rate rises to 5.9 percent – still much healthier than even the nominal unemployment rate in most of Europe, and significantly better than the “real” rate in the U.S., where large numbers of people are not actively looking for a job.

A third definition includes not only these two categories, but also individuals who are not interested in working, but would consider working if a job was available. Included in the number, the unemployment rate rises to 8.1 percent. Finally, if the numbers include individuals who are working part time but prefer to work full time, as well as those who sought a second part-time job and could not find one, the rate goes up to 10.6 percent.

In other OECD countries, the Ministry said, the unemployment rate taking all these factors into account is between 15 percent and 20 percent.

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