New figures highlight the record low unemployment and high labor participation rates among all segments of the Israeli public
The Israeli government statistics office published new employment figures this morning that show a tightening in the Israeli employment market with unemployment among people ages 15 and up reaching a 40-year low of 3.4%.
It should be noted that in 1978, which was the last time unemployment was this low, Israeli economy was primarily socialist and mobilized towards the defense of the country as it faced immediate existential threats. Government played a bigger role in employment as did communal farms – the kibbutzim. This makes any comparisons between today’s numbers, belonging as they do to a thriving free market economy in a country of nine million people to those of 40 year ago that belonged to a mobilized socialist economy with a population base of just over three million rather irrelevant. Today’s number should thus be seen as substantially unprecedented.
Digging deeper, the numbers show total labor participation for all people above age 15 at 4.1 million (62.8% of total population). In the primary age group for employment between the ages of 25 to 64, the labor participation rate stands at 80.1%. In this age group, unemployment rate is 2.9%, split between 2.7% for men and 3.2% for women.
These employment statistics are all the more remarkable because Israel has large segments of the population, both Jewish and non-Jewish that are highly traditional and because of its high average birth rate, well among the highest in any industrialized country. As the numbers encompass men and women, Jews and Arabs, religiously devout and totally secular, it appears that Israel has found the formula for combining a highly dynamic and modern workforce with traditional values and large families.
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