The latest statistics on building starts in Israel add another layer of gloom to the economic picture: New home construction was down in the second quarter of 2020 some 27 percent from the same period last year, 29 percent from the first quarter of this year.
The 9,445 building starts represent the lowest figure in the sector for a quarter since the third quarter of 2012, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The COVID-19 crisis and the first lockdown in April could account for the slump during that time, but building starts picked up in May and June.
Besides the pandemic, the residential construction industry is afflicted by other problems, including a shortage of workers, problems with marketing by the Israel Land Authority (ILA) and to cap it all, the resignation on Sunday of Minister of Construction and Housing Rabbi Yaakov Litzman.
The fall in building starts was strongest in Yerushalayim, where there was a 64% fall in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the second quarter of 2019. Building starts fell 43% in the south, 39% in Haifa, 25% in Tel Aviv, 16% in central Israel and actually rose by 23% in northern Israel.