The rate of unemployment among Arabs in Israel is much higher than previously believed, according to a new analysis by Professor Eran Yashiv, chairman of the Economic Policy Program at Tel Aviv University’s Taub Center.

By analyzing the latest figures collected by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Yashiv discovered that the employment situation in the Arab sector – which represents almost a fifth of the population – is much worse than had been reported.

The share of Arabs among all unemployed Israelis is around 30 percent, twice that of earlier estimates, the Taub Center said Tuesday.

Whereas in the past figures were collected quarterly, starting at the beginning of 2012 they were collected monthly. This, says Yashiv, is compounded by the fact that previous CBS surveys were limited in scope, and didn’t reach a wide enough sample.

“It’s not that they were doing something wrong, but the sampling framework was not big enough,” Yashiv told The Jerusalem Post. “They did not sample enough small places, such as Arab villages, and therefore they didn’t get as full of a picture as they’re getting now.”

The other major issues contributing to high unemployment, Yashiv said, are Arab citizens with university degrees not finding work in their fields, and the low participation rate of Arab women in the workforce.

“There is still a lot of discrimination, unfortunately, against Israeli-Arabs. For example, if an Arab is a graduate of university, and doesn’t get a job in his field, the statistics say he’s unemployed, but we know that’s not the full story, and that 40 percent of Arab academic graduates don’t get work in their own professions,” Yashiv said.

Recently, there have been several government initiatives to help get more Arab Israelis into the workforce, particularly people with university degrees who have found it impossible to find work in their fields.

For the first time in the state’s history, the government ran television and radio advertisements earlier this summer, urging people in corporate positions of power to stop discriminating against Arabs when interviewing job candidates.

The ad warned: “It would be a shame to forgo the right employee for the wrong reasons.”

It’s too early to evaluate how significant of an impact the campaign had. But Aiman Saif, director of the Authority for the Economic Development of Minorities, a division of the Prime Minister’s Office, recently told the Post that approximately 600 companies have stepped forward to say that they’d like to participate in a incentives program to hire qualified Arab workers.

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, the co-director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, an organization working to advance equality and cooperation among Israel’s Arab and Jewish citizens, says the revised statistics show the urgency of the situation.

“The picture that emerges from these statistics is serious, and testifies to the economic and employment crisis.

Although the Israeli government is making efforts at economic integration, apparently it is not enough. The government must formulate long-term programs in various economic sectors, such as opening industrial zones in Arab communities, strengthening of local Arab authorities, public transportation that is more effective and affordable, and running day-care programs [for working mothers],” Be’eri- Sulitzeanu told the Post.

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