Government Targets For Haredi Employment Not Being Met
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Government targets for increasing male haredi employment have not been met, a senior official at the Economy Ministry said yesterday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Michal Tzuk, the Senior Deputy Director in the Economy Ministry, made noted the failure at a conference of the Israel Democracy Institute where she was a panelist.
The government targets were a 63% employment rate by 2020 for both male and female haredim.
The latest statistics from the Economy Ministry show the male haredi employment rate is just 49%. By comparison, over 80% of all Israeli men are working. 74% of haredi women are working. By way of comparison, overall 82% of all Israeli women work.
“It’s not a target where we’ve seen much progress,” Tzur said.
In 2002, 35% of haredi men were employed. The growth in employment of haredi men since then, made possible by special government programs and propelled by deepening haredi poverty, is still only about 1% annually.
Tellingly, the authors of the Israel Democracy Institute’s new report, released yesterday in conjunction with the conference, noted in that report the average monthly wage of haredi employees was less than 80% of the national median wage. That should mean the lack of secular education common in many haredi schools likely contributes heavily to haredi poverty, even when one or both parents work.
This education-reduced lower haredi productivity could easily drag down the Israeli economy as a whole even if the haredi employment rate nears the national normal.
“As a result of the low employment rate and low income that characterizes this [haredi] sector, most haredi households are below the poverty line. Given the consistent growth of this community, haredi poverty has macro effects on tax revenues, benefit payments, consumption, and GDP,” the new report found.
It also recommended the government address the type of employment haredi men and women can obtain in a bid to lessen that macro burden on the economy.
“This change would ensure that entering the work force will actually enable haredi Israelis to earn a decent wage and live comfortably. In addition, it would contribute to increased productivity and a more equitable distribution of the tax burden, which would benefit Israel's economy and society as a whole,” the report says.
It also suggested new targets for haredi employment to be met by 2025: 67% for men and 78% for women. Of those employed haredim, 23% of women and 33% of men should be employed in industry and commercial services, the report urged.
Haredi rabbis discourage male employment and instead urge all haredi men to study full time in yeshivas well into late middle age and even beyond.