Salaried employees in Jerusalem, like those across Israel and the world, are contending with an economic crisis. Numerous workers are now on unpaid leave and many of the self-employed have lost their livelihoods. Data published by the Israeli Employment Service concerning the situation of the newly unemployed on unpaid leave reveals the current situation of the workers in Jerusalem and throughout Israel. According to the figures, 15% of the total number of workers on unpaid leave reside in Jerusalem (as of March, the unemployed in Jerusalem numbered 70,064), fewer than in Tel Aviv (18%), and in the center (25%). However, these numbers do not reflect reality, and the number of newly unemployed people is probably higher. In East Jerusalem, workers employed in the territories administered by the Palestinian Authority are now unable to work, but are not eligible for government benefits. There are also workers in East Jerusalem who have difficulty filling in the relevant forms and submitting them to the authorities on time, due to poor Hebrew language skills.

Most of the workers in Jerusalem who are on unpaid leave are from the spheres of education and training, with 20% of those who were on unpaid leave in March coming from these sectors, followed by 12% who work at odd jobs that don’t require training. The rates are very similar in the rest of the country.

It is interesting to note that in Jerusalem an almost identical number of women and men are now on unpaid leave, 50.5% and 49.5% respectively. At first glance it seems that in the context of the economic crisis the burden is finally being shouldered equally. However, this is a bogus representation of reality. When one recalls that the rate of employment of women in Jerusalem is lower than in the rest of the country (47% as opposed to 60%, as of 2017), it emerges that the situation for women has worsened to a great extent, and the number of women who have lost their jobs is much higher than their presence in the employment market. In contrast, in the country as a whole 57% of women are now on unpaid leave, as compared to 42% of men. This means that more women than men have been more adversely affected by the current situation.

The figures from the Employment Service also show that more young people in Jerusalem are on unpaid leave than their peers in the rest of the country. Of those on unpaid leave in Jerusalem, 56% are under the age of 34, as opposed to 48% in the rest of Israel. The stipend available to those who are 28 years old and younger who are on unpaid leave is significantly lower than that which is available to older workers. This means that in Jerusalem more of the population will be newly unemployed and will be receiving lower amounts in unemployment benefits, so that the economic hardship in the city will be greater.

Translation: Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann