New Record in Monthly Layoffs: Over 20,000

Close to 60,000 people were laid off in the first quarter of 2009, including a record monthly total of 20,072 in March.<br/><br/>

Contact Editor
Hillel Fendel,

Close to 60,000 people were laid off in the first quarter of 2009, including a record monthly total of 20,072 in March.

March was the third month out of the last four to set a national record.  December saw 17,500 layoffs, and January hit 19,700 - both record-breakers. In February, 17,800 Israelis were fired from their jobs, and last March, the number was less than 11,900.

Employment Service Director Yossi Parchi announced the numbers, based on the amount of new job seekers during the month of March.  The rate of newly unemployed in all areas of Israel currently stands at more than 200,000 a year, an unprecedented number in Israeli history. 

Many analysts are predicting another large wave of layoffs after the Passover holiday, later this month.

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor), who took over the Industry and Trade Ministry from Eli Yishai of Shas this week, said, “The data are worrisome, especially the upward trend in the number of job seekers.” Ben-Eliezer said that unemployment will be the top item on his agenda, and that he will begin working in the coming days with public and private elements in the economy to reverse the trend.

Before the financial crisis that began several months ago, the average number of layoffs in Israel stood around 10,000, with more people finding work per month than were laid off.  The trend now is the opposite.

David Tzarfati, head of the Employment Service’s Research Branch, has said that more than 260,000 people are expected to be seeking work by the end of 2009.  His numbers are based on Bank of Israel’s estimates of economic growth rates and on trends noted by the Employment Service.