In 2014 the average hourly wage among men in Jerusalem (NIS 45) was lower than the figure for women (NIS 48). In Israel generally, in contrast, the average hourly wage among men (NIS 58) was 19% higher than the average wage among women (NIS 49). In Tel Aviv the discrepancy was even greater, at 24% (NIS 72 vs. NIS 58). Should we conclude, therefore, that women’s status relative to men in Jerusalem is better than their relative status throughout Israel?

The answer, regrettably, is no. Several factors contribute to these wage rates, but simultaneously they also reveal the sorry state of affairs among a significant portion of Jerusalem’s women.

Jerusalem has 166,600 women of working age (25-65), 38% of whom are Arab. Among Arab women, about 22% have an academic education, compared with some 50% of Jewish women. Having a higher education increases one’s earning power, and accordingly, Arab women earn less than Jewish women. The labor force participation rate among Arab women stands at 21%, compared with a rate of 79% among Jewish women. Evidently, given the current levels of education, if the participation rate of Arab women were to increase, the average hourly wage of Jerusalem’s women would decrease.

Thus, we could envision a situation in which the media reports on a decline in the earnings of Jerusalem’s women (although no individual woman actually suffered a loss of income) because of increased participation on the part of women who lack a higher education and earn less than the current average hourly wage.

Similarly, increased employment and labor force participation rates among workers at the low end of the salary spectrum can also have a negative impact on the average hourly wage. In reality, individual wages might not have changed, and the living standards of those entering the workforce might actually have improved, but the average wage – the figure typically reported in the media – might have declined.

It is very important, therefore, not to rely on just one indicator in assessing the current state of affairs. Every statistic must be examined in its particular context.

Translation: Merav Datan