As of Thursday, there were 847,906 Israelis registered as unemployed with the Employment Service. The unemployment rate is currently 20.4%, and expected to grow. With that, the number of people filing for benefits Wednesday – 39,009 – was lower than the 45,647 who had applied Tuesday, although officials said that it was far too early to determine if layoffs were slowing.
With new restrictions coming into effect Wednesday further limiting Israelis’ freedom of movement, Rami Grauer, director general of the Employment Service, said that the organization “is carefully watching the situation and trying to understand how the new restrictions will influence the picture. We are preparing ourselves for the next stage – the gradual return of the economy to full activity. Our expectation is that 20% of those who were laid off will not be going back to work at their former jobs,” he added.
Just a month ago, Israel’s unemployment rate was in the area of 3%, the lowest in the country’s history, with just 160,000 seeking work. Most of those applying now are doing so not as job-seekers, but as laid-off employees, under the category of “on leave without pay.” However, National Insurance officials told Kan News that given the expected changes that the coronavirus crisis will have wrought in the future – fewer people eating out, more conservative leisure plans, etc. – it was possible that a good number of the businesses affected will not reopen, and as a result the jobs they provided will disappear.
According to Employment Service figures, 90% of those seeking work are on layoffs. So far during the month of March, 59% of unemployment benefits applicants have been women, 41% men. 46.2% are between the ages of 20 and 34, 37.5% between 35-54, and 14% over 55. Of those seeking benefits, 25.2% are residents of the center of the country. 18.6% live in Tel Aviv, 15.5% in Yerushalayim, and Yehudah and Shomron, 15.4% in the north, 14% in the south, and 11.2% in Haifa.