Labour market data for December, 4th Quarter and full-year 2016

February 1, 2017

Bottom line:  The labour market has enjoyed another year of expansion, with the positive trends intensifying in the latter part of the year, in line with the general rise in the rate of growth. Employment rates reached record highs and unemployment rates plumbed record lows; the participation rate was roughly stable, rising among women, Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews and falling among men.


  • Employment: The employment rate — i.e. the percentage of people in the labour force with a job or self-employed — rose to 95.6% in December, matching the record level first reached in May. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the rate has reached record levels for three successive months: 5% in October, 95.6% in November and 95.7% in December.
  • Unemployment: The unemployment rate — i.e. people without full- or part-time employment and actively seeking a job — is the flip side of the employment rate and fell to record low levels in December: 4.4% as measured on an ongoing basis (compared to 4.6% in November and 4.9% in October), and 4.3% on a seasonally-adjusted basis (4.5% in both the previous months).
  • Participation rate: The percentage of the population in the labour market was unchanged in December (from November) at 64.1% and unchanged for the year as a whole (compared to 2015)at that same rate.
  • For the 25-64 age cohort — the main element in the workforce — unemployment fell to 4.1% in 2016 as a whole, from 4.5% in 2015 — and reached 3.8% in the final quarter. The participation rate for this cohort inched up over the year to 79.9%, but fell in the final quarter, from 80.2% in July-September to 80.0% in October-December.
  • Among older people, the participation rate rose particularly strongly during 2016. The rates for the three eldest groups — those aged 60-64, 65-69 and 70+ all rose sharply, to record levels.
  • The rate of increase in the participation rate among Israeli Arabs was stronger than among the overall population — from 52.7% in 2015 to 53.4% in 2016. The Israeli Arab unemployment rate fell from 5.2% to 5.0%
  • The percentage of employees in high-tech sectors remained unchanged from 2015, at 9.1% of the total.

The number of salaried workers paid by employment agencies fell during 2016, from 41.3 thousand to 36 thousand.

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