Unemployment office
Unemployment officeIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Unemployment dropped to just 5.5% in the second quarter of 2011, down from 6% in the first quarter, the Central Statistics Bureau revealed Wednesday.

Among women, unemployment was at 5.4%, continuing a trend that began in mid-2009 of lower unemployment among women.

The increase in overall employment was accompanied by a 1% drop in full-time employment, defined as 35 hours a week or more of work. The growth occurred among those working fewer than 35 hours per week – another 56,000 employees joined their ranks, for a 7% increase.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz expressed satisfaction with the drop, which he credited to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's economic policies.

“The policy steps taken in the past two years continue to bear fruit,” he declared. “This historical trend toward decreasing unemployment stands out against the wavering world markets. The Israeli economy is stable, and must be preserved with a responsible budget policy, as we have done so far.”

The CBS counts as unemployed those age 15 and above who have zero hours of paid work each week and are actively seeking employment.