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      Unemployment in Israel Lowest in Twelve Years

      Unemployment in Israel continues to decline. In the period from December 2005 to January 2006 the jobless rate was 8.7%, or 241,000 jobless - the lowest unemployment rate in 12 years.
      By Ezra HaLevi
      First Publish: 3/20/2006, 2:55 PM / Last Update: 3/20/2006, 5:38 PM

      In the fourth quarter of 2005, the unemployment rate was 8.8%, or 244,000 unemployed individuals. Overall in 2005, the average monthly unemployment rate was 9%.

      The report by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said the unemployment rate fell by 0.3%, or by 9,000 persons, from June to December 2005. The unemployment rate has fallen by a total of 2.2% since mid-2002. European countries with a higher unemployment rate include Spain, Germany, Turkey, France and Greece.

      Unemployment in Israel has been steadily declining since reaching a peak of 10.9% at the end of 2003. Sources in the Finance Ministry predict that the unemployment rate will continue to fall in 2006, and will fall below 8% by December.

      Many economists link Israel's unemployment to the presence of foreign workers and the employment of Palestinian Arabs, who continue to cross legally and illegally from Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

      The CBS also reported that Israel ranks fourth among all of the developed nations in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita growth in 2005, with growth of 3.3%. The three countries with higher rates were Ireland, Turkey and Iceland.