/constuction_workers.jpgIsrael news file (photo)

In contrast to a darkening economic picture in the nearby European Union, Israel's unemployment picture continued to brighten in the first quarter of 2010.

Unemployment dropped 0.7 percent in April 2010, down from 195,100 in March to 193,800 in April, according to the Israel National Employment Service on Tuesday.

The job market has been steadily improving since July 2009. In June 2009, 211,000 Israelis were unemployed.

On April 21, the Bank of Israel lifted its 2010 growth forecast to 3.7 percent, up from their previous estimate of 3.5 percent according to Bloomberg Businessweek.  The news service added that Israeli unemployment is likely to drop to 7 percent in 2010, down significantly from 7.7 percent in 2009.  The Bank of Israel expects unemployment to drop to 6.7 percent in 2011.