A man walks his dog past the shuttered stalls of the normally bustling Carmel Market in Tel Aviv
A man walks his dog past the shuttered stalls of the normally bustling Carmel Market in Tel Aviv
Photo: EPA
 A man walks his dog past the shuttered stalls of the normally bustling Carmel Market in Tel Aviv

As coronavirus infects the economy, Israel hits 1 million unemployed

1 in 4 members of the workforce are now without a job, compared to just 1 in 25 before the crisis began; almost half of those who are now registered as jobless are under the age of 35

Shahar Ilan, Calcalist |
Published: 04.01.20 , 14:05
For the first time in the country's history, more than one million people in Israel – 24.1 percent of the workforce - are currently unemployed.
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  • By Wednesday morning, the total number of active job seekers in Israel stood at 1,004,316 – an increase of 843,945 since the start of the month.
     A man walks his dog past the shuttered stalls of the normally bustling Carmel Market in Tel Aviv  A man walks his dog past the shuttered stalls of the normally bustling Carmel Market in Tel Aviv
    A man walks his dog past the shuttered stalls of the normally bustling Carmel Market in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: EPA)
    On Tuesday, a total of 35,668 jobseekers registered with the Employment Service – some 49% higher than on Monday, with 23,978 registrations, and Sunday, which saw 23,946 registrations. It is the highest figure since Thursday, when 42,860 people registered as unemployed.

    Black March

    At the beginning of March, the unemployment rate in Israel was just 3.9% - considered to be a very low number. Since then it has soared eightfold to 24.1%.
    In real terms, one in four workers in Israel is now unemployed. The primary reason for this growth is the government's decision to encourage workers to take unpaid leave instead of opting to partially finance employers' payrolls to avoid dismissals.
    רמי גראור, מנכ"ל שירות התעסוקהרמי גראור, מנכ"ל שירות התעסוקה
    Employment Service chief Rami Grauer
    (Photo: Israel Employment Service)
    The blackest day in the history of the Israeli labor market was Thursday, March 19, when 127,464 registered as unemployed.
    Nonetheless, the second half of March saw a very worrying phenomenon: While for the first two weeks of the crisis, just 5% of those who registered with the Employment Service had been fired, over the past two weeks, that has significantly risen to 9%.
    An increase in dismissals signals that some employers do not even indicate the desire to restore their workforce, a phenomenon that could also be related to the growing rise in bankruptcies.
    Overall, 89.7% of the new jobseekers for March have been placed on unpaid leave, while 6.4% were fired. In comparison, before the crisis started, only 3% of jobseekers were on unpaid leave.
    The wave of unemployment also significantly impacts on young people. Of the newly unemployed, 46% are under the age of 35, the Employment Service said.
    This raises the question of whether once the crisis has passed, unemployment among young people will be relatively high in Israel, as it is in some European countries.
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