MacroScope

Israel’s new-found jobless

May 1, 2012

Following on from Nigeria’s rebasing of its GDP numbers, giving it a huge growth boost on paper, it is Israel’s turn to tinker with the numbers.  This time, though, the end result was not positive.

The country’s Central Bureau of Statistics said on Monday that the first-quarter jobless rate was 6.7 percent. This a good 1.3 percentage points higher than the announced fourth-quarter figure.

It does not, however, signal a sudden cull of workers across Israel. It is the result, rather, of Israel adopting a new way of counting employment designed to bring it in line with the way leading Western economies do it. So the equivalent fourth-quarter number would have been 6. 8 percent, slightly higher.

There were close to 40 changes made to the survey, according to our correspondent  Steven Scheer, from adding 100 more cities and towns to including soldiers. (The later, being 100 percent employed, should have lowered the rate, but apparently not enough).

Government and monetary officials were quick to point out that the unemployment rate is still pretty good compared with say 7.4 percent for the OECD as a whole. The finance ministry also said the increase was due to the new survey showing a higher employment participation..

Nonetheless, it has rather undermined some government claims that Israel is weathering the global economic storm far better than most.

And then, of course, if the new counting measure is better and more accurate, the number of jobless did jump above what was thought – only not just in the past quarter.

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