Jobs Crisis Math Is Getting Impossible for Israel During Pandemic

Israel’s labor market is in crisis. Agreement among officials stops there.

Three different governmental bodies in Israel publish data on joblessness. Their estimates vary so widely that it’s “not possible” to know the true level of unemployment and decide how to remedy the situation, according to a report Thursday from the State Comptroller and Ombudsman’s office.

While the Central Bureau of Statistics said there were 401,000 unemployed in June, according to data compiled by the comptroller, the National Insurance Institute put that number at 521,000. The Israeli Employment Service said there were 862,000 job seekers.

Jobs Crisis Math Is Getting Impossible for Israel During Pandemic

Some differences stem from varying collection methods. The report noted that the Insurance Institute figures are based on paid claims, while the Employment Service counts applications from job seekers and the statistics bureau uses labor force surveys.

Without an accurate reading of unemployment, policy makers risk providing inadequate support and leaving people with lesser prospects for years ahead.

The country’s central bank in late August said a “broad unemployment rate” was around 12% -- in contrast with the Israeli Employment Service’s job-seeker ratio of roughly a fifth of the workforce.

With local Covid-19 cases surging to new record highs and a second lockdown potentially imminent, the economic outlook is darkening again.

“We remain very concerned about the rising unemployment in the country,” Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Andrew Abir said in an interview Monday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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