Israel Central Bureau of Statistics provided two pieces of good news: unemployment is at a record low and housing starts are up.
The unemployment rate in Israel has declined to 6%, a record low. Israel now has 192,000 people who are unemployed, a term defined to include those who are actively seeking work by registering in the employment bureaus, approaching an employer personally or in writing, and are prepared to work if they receive a concrete job offer.
An interesting statistic was that the percentage of unemployed females was 5.7% as opposed to 6.3% among males, continuing a trend that has been apparent since 2009.
This optimistic part of the report was balanced by a slight decline in the percentage of those participating in the workforce, 75.7% as opposed to 76.1% for the corresponding quarter in 2010. This reflects the demographic growth of sectors where either the male or the female does not seek employment for religious or cultural reasons.
Another strong economic signal was sent by the housing market where building starts accelerated by 16 percent as opposed to last year. This is the highest rate of building starts since the 3rd quarter of 2000, the quarter when the Oslo War (also called the Second Intifada) began.
The picture is somewhat modified by the fact that the highest number of housing starts was recorded in the central area, whereas in the North and in Jerusalem, housing starts actually declined. Housing starts in Jerusalem constituted only 6% of housing starts during the quarter.
On the positive side a 633.3% increase was recorded in housing starts in Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, reflecting renewed confidence after the termination of the building freeze. This refers only to houses which had permits before the freeze, as no new permits have been signed by the Defense Minister.