Some 3,900 employees in the industrial sector lost their jobs in the first four months of the year, and the number is only expected to rise, the head of the Manufacturers Association's Economics Division, Shuky Abramovich, said yesterday.

Employees are being made redundant across the entire industrial sector, he said.

The number of employees in the hi-tech sector fell by 2%, following a 2.6% fall in last year's final quarter and a 3.2% drop in the third quarter of 2001.

Job losses were highest in the electronics components sector, which recorded a 4.5% drop, and the communications equipment sector, which experienced a 3% fall.

In the first four months of the year, industrial output failed to rise, and now stands at 2.7% below last year's average and 9.3% down from a record high registered in the third quarter 2000, just before the outbreak of the intifada.

Output fell slightly in traditional technology sectors and technology incorporated sectors, but increased slightly in hi-technology and hi-tech incorporated sectors.

After three consecutive quarters of declines, productivity in the industrial sector increased by 0.9% in the first four months of the year despite a 0.8% drop in working hours. Productivity in the first four months of the year, however, is still 0.4% below last year's average.