1 million Israelis unemployed by Passover, employment chief predicts

Israel’s unemployment rate reaches all-time high of 18.6%. Over 600,000 Israelis are currently jobless and the number is expected to grow.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel’s unemployment rate soared to an all-time record high of 18.6% on Tuesday morning.

Overnight Monday, an additional 31,146 Israelis registered online for unemployment benefits, bringing the total number of job seekers in Israel to 615,834 since the beginning of March.

Ninety-one percent of those filing for unemployment benefits were placed on unpaid leave. Almost half of Israeli employers have placed some or all of their employees on unpaid leave.

“We estimate that by the end of Passover, we will reach about one million new jobseekers due to the Coronavirus crisis,” said Rami Graur, head of Israel’s Employment Bureau.

“This is partly due to announcements by leading companies in Israel about the closure of branches and work centers, the possibility of unpaid leave for municipal workers, and the concern that this can spread to other industries.”

Graur continued, “We are working diligently to create solutions and offer work to Israelis, introducing them to employers who need to recruit thousands of workers.

“This morning, we are transferring a third batch of 100,000 unemployment benefit applications to the National Insurance Institute, so that people can receive their benefits as soon as possible.”

The coronavirus pandemic has proved an economic challenge for Israel. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a press conference promising an economic stimulus plan to help reduce the damage.

“We’re providing a 10-billion-shekel package to stabilize the economy,” Netanyahu said at the press conference. “This is first aid. We’ll provide additional aid as needed.”

At the conference, Moshe Kahlon, Israel’s Minister of Finance, announced special government loans aimed at keeping businesses afloat.

“It’s very simple,” Kahlon said. “Any business that has incurred damage [due to the coronavirus] can receive a loan. These are loans with good terms. The interest is low, the guarantees are very low.”

Kahlon went on to say that the government was developing additional economic aid measures that would be announced in the near future. “The economic aspect of this is under control,” he said.