Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|New jobless figures (israel)|
|11/23/01 at 20:09:57|
|Analysis / New jobless figures do not reveal the real picture|
By Ruth Sinai, Ha'aretz Correspondent
The rate of unemployment released Thursday by the Central Bureau of Statistics is still far from the record high the unemployment curve reached nearly a decade ago. In 1992, 11.2 percent of the labor force was without work.
Nevertheless, there were different reasons for the high unemployment, which derived from the wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who flooded the labor market all at once, creating an enormous demand for jobs. And indeed, within four years the excess demand for work was absorbed and in 1996 only an employment level of 6.7 percent was recorded.
In addition, the sharp drop in unemployment during the same years was due in no small way to the diplomatic process that followed the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993. The optimism that accompanied the signing - the hope of turning Israel into a gateway to the Arab world and an investment location - inspired energetic activity in the market that in turn created places of work also for new immigrants.
In actual fact, at the heart of the problem is the crisis with the Palestinians. The attempts of the last decade prove that for as long as there is no real hope of peace, the crisis will continue to damage Israel's economy and prevent the creation of new places of work.
Economic recession has been dominant since 1996. The year 2000 was indeed an period of growth, but did not succeed in reducing the rate of unemployment, which climbed to almost nine percent.
It seems that today's true unemployment rate is much higher than the one declared Thursday. Professor Aryeh Arnon from the economics department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who serves as chairman of the non- profit association "Michuyavut" ("commitment"), which provides assistance to the unemployed, said Thursday that the official number of 234,500 jobless should have added to it at least 40 percent more who have given up looking for work, a calculation that brings the comprehensive number to around 350,000.
However, it seems that this number too is not representative of the full unemployment picture. As well as the jobless, there are many Israelis who do not work. The percentage of active participants in the workforce is only 54 percent of Israeli citizens of working age, meaning nearly half of the 4.8 million Israelis of working age do not participate in the workforce. This group includes homemakers - whose hard work is not counted as aprt of the labor force - as well as ultra-Orthodox Jews and others. All of these, in contrast to the reigstered unemployed, are considered as people who "willingly" do not work. If they were to join the cycle of job-seeking, the market would be unable to provide most of them with a place of work.
In the present climate, which according to all indications is expected to get worse, the market is incapable of providing employment even for those who do wish to work. There is no doubt that the decline in exports - like the government policy that refuses to increase the budget deficit - is greatly contributing to the shortage of jobs, along with the overall worldwide economic recession.
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