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updated: 2/17/2014 6:35 AM

Israeli bank chief blames slowdown on demography

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Associated Press

JERUSALEM -- Israel's central bank chief says demographic changes such as aging and the larger proportion of Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews in society threaten the country's long-term growth prospects.

Karnit Flug spoke Monday, a day after Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics announced that Israel's growth rate for the second half of 2013 was 2.8 percent -- down from a 3.8 percent rate the previous year.

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She says the low rate of employment among ultra-Orthodox men and Arab women in particular is hindering growth. She says both segments are showing increased employment, but without a drastic change Israel would suffer in comparison to other developed nations.

Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's 8 million citizens. The ultra-Orthodox are less than 10 percent. Both are among the fastest growing segments of society.

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