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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Sharp rise in Israeli unemployment
Israeli public sector workers striking
Job cuts led to strikes
There has been a sharp rise in unemployment in Israel, with 20,000 more people losing their jobs in the first three months of the year.

Nearly 11% of the active population is now out of work in Israel, which is struggling with its worst recession since the state was created 1948.

And the situation is likely to get worse as Israel tries to implement its emergency cost-cutting programme that includes heavy job losses in the public sector.

Thousands of welfare workers will face the sack over the next few months, and official estimates say there will be 300,000 unemployed people by the end of the year.


The austerity plan provoked public sector workers to strike at the end of the April, crippling much of Israel's infrastructure.

The strike ended when the government agreed to new talks with the unions, but the outcome of these talks is not yet apparent.

The latest government figures showed that unemployment had risen to 10.8% by the end of March, up from 10.2% at the end of December.

Israel's economy has been shattered by two-and-a-half years of conflict with the Palestinians, as well as being hit by the global slowdown.

The economy has contracted by 1% in each of the past two years.

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