Israel’s unemployment rising with infection rate

As pandemic restrictions are re-imposed, the jobless figures are rising again with the unemployment rate hitting 21 percent.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s jobless rate is rising again as new statistics showed that twice as many people applied for unemployment benefits as were hired in the past day, the Employment Authority said Wednesday.

With more than one out of every five Israelis out of work, the latest numbers show there are 853,843 job seekers registered with the employment service, of which 575,163 are on unpaid leave from industries hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The national unemployment rate stands at 21 percent, a staggering number compared to Israel’s pre-pandemic rate of less than 4 percent.

In the past day the authority received reports of 1,517 returning to work, while at the same time 3,289 others joined the ranks of the unemployed, more than double the number of those returning to work.

From a jobless peak of 25 percent at the height of national closures at the beginning of April, there has been a slight improvement since health restrictions eased at the end of the first wave of infections.

While 402,746 Israelis have returned to work since the economy started reopening, another 158,266 new job seekers registered with the employment service.

The second wave of corona infections has reached the point that the government is not hiding the fact that new shutdowns may be required, driving fears the unemployment rate could shoot back up.

I suggest we start talking about a full closure. If within three days we do not see a change in morbidity – we will have to get there,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said.

The minister said that he didn’t expect his outlook to change “unless a miracle happens.”

On Tuesday, Israel posted a single-day record of 1,718 new cases and as of Wednesday morning there were 22,704 Israelis with active cases of coronavirus. Of those, 195 were listed in serious condition – triple the number from two weeks ago.

While the number of deaths has been on the low side, standing currently at 375, former Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov gave a chilling forecast to the corona advisory committee, saying it could rise to 1,000 if matters do not improve.