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Unemployment balloons to 25.8%, with over 6,000 registering on Sunday

1,075,271 out of work; figures show increase in number of people who have lost their jobs, rather then being put on unpaid leave

Illustrative: A man wearing a face mask walks through the empty market in Ramla, on March 23, 2020. (Flash90)
Illustrative: A man wearing a face mask walks through the empty market in Ramla, on March 23, 2020. (Flash90)

With restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak continuing to ravage the economy, 6,693 people registered as being out of work on Sunday alone, according to figures from the Israel National Employment Service.

The number was an increase over the 5,713 who registered as unemployed last Tuesday, the last full day work day before the start of the week-long Passover holiday.

To prevent the virus spreading, Israelis have been ordered to stay at home, only venturing out for basic needs or to attend work that is considered essential. The orders have shuttered businesses, forcing employees out of work.

The national unemployment rate is now at 25.8 percent, amounting to 1,075,271 people, the service said. At the beginning of March, when social distancing orders impacting places of work were first issued, the rate was under 4%.

In an increasing trend, more people were losing their jobs rather than just being put on unpaid leave.

Since the start of March 935,864 people became unemployed, of whom 88.7% are on leave while 6.9% were laid off. From the beginning of April, 87,065 registered as unemployed, of whom 79.9% are on leave and 11.7% lost their jobs.

“We are watching with great concern the rise in the number of people laid off compared to those who were put on unpaid leave, a trend that began already two weeks ago, and expresses a growing difficulty for businesses in Israel in being able to commit to returning their workers when the crisis passes,” said Employment Service director Rami Garor.

Teams in the Finance Ministry have drawn up plans for a gradual release of coronavirus social distancing restrictions on the population, which they hope to initiate immediately after Passover in a bid to jumpstart the largely comatose national economy as soon as possible and prevent a financial disaster.

The ministry seeks a return to work of hundreds of thousands of people shortly after the end of the holiday on Wednesday, warning of severe financial implications if they remain at home much longer, Channel 13 news report.

Ynet reported that the plan calls for a return of 50% of nonessential workers to their places of employment by May 3, and a return of all workers by the end of May.

Channel 13 noted that the plan being promoted by the treasury had not been coordinated with the Health Ministry, and the desire to quickly move toward a release of restrictions was likely to raise hackles with health officials who fear a hasty removal of limitations could lead to a new wave of infections.

On Saturday, sources in the Finance Ministry told the Kan public broadcaster that over 400,000 people who have been laid off or placed on unpaid leave due to the coronavirus crisis will remain unemployed even after the closure is lifted.

The number of coronavirus infections nationwide stood Sunday evening at 11,103. At least 174 people were in serious condition, including 123 on ventilators. So far 103 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The number of Israelis who have recovered from COVID-19 rose by 220 on Sunday to 1,583.

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