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WORK page 33
Economic growth, which
dipped to 3.7 percent in 1993, was
back up to a rousing 6 percent in
1994. (One of the negative results
is an inflation rate of 14.5 per-
Also, the government is con-
structing and widening highways
all over the country and investing
massive amounts of money in
building, equipping and staffing
A new city is under construc-
tion in Modi'in, and tens of thou-
sands of housing units are being
built in Rosh Ha'ayin, Beit
Shemesh and other towns in cen-
tral and northern Israel.
In addition, jobless people un-
der 35 are now required to accept
work outside their professions or
lose their unemployment benefits
after two months.
"Another important, unseen el-
ement is the Russians," said Mr.
Eilan. "A la of Russian immi-
grants are opening their own
The unemployment rate
among Russian immigrants has
fallen to about the level of the gen-
eral Israeli public.
Not everyone is so sanguine
about the country's job profile.
"The job growth is mainly in
the lower-paid sectors of the econ-
omy," insisted labor studies
Professor Dan Jacobson of Tel
Aviv University. "The Histadrut
national labor federation has
all but disappeared as a force, so
now companies can get away with
paying lower and lower wages
and thus afford to hire more work-
"The minimum wage (approx-
imately $2.60 an hour) is a fiction
for tens of thousands of workers.
It is not enforced," Professor Ja-
cobson continued. "The gap be-
tween the rich and poor is
growing, so that even if the over-
all unemployment statistics have
improved, the structure of em-
ployment remains a serious prob-
lem." Not so, says Tsipi Gal-Yam,
chief economic adviser to the Fi-
"The new jobs are at all levels.
Over 80 percent are in industry.
It was business, not government,
that opened the gates to employ-
ment," she said.
As for poverty, Ms. Gal-Yam
predicted that the statistics for
1994 would show a drop in that
misery indicator, too.
Even if Professor Jacobson is
right, and there is as high a pro-
portion of poor people in Israel as
ever, at least more of them are
Anyway you look at it, revers-
ing a decade-long trend, driving
down the jobless rate from 11.2
percent to 7.5 percent in less than
two years, is a remarkable, dra-
"Our accomplishments in
bringing down unemployment,"
wrote Ha'aretz economics colum-
nist Arie Caspi, "will one day be
studied in universities." 
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