Haredi family 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Employment has jumped in the past two years among haredi men, a key target in
the government’s drive to increase labor participation and fight
The employment rate among the group rose to 45.6 percent in 2011
from 38.7% in 2009, the central bank said in an excerpt from its annual report
sent by email Tuesday. The full report will be published at the end of
Most of the increase came in the business sector and not from
government or religious jobs, it said.
That the employment rate has
remained high over a period of two years – in contrast to the temporary rise in
2006 – strengthens the bank’s assessment that a genuine change has taken place,
the report said. The rapid increase in employment in the business sector,
excluding religiously oriented industries, indicates that the participation of
haredi men in general economic activity is on the rise, it said.
the bank conceded that it was unable to evaluate to what extent these changes
were caused by a general increase in demand for labor, by government employment
policy toward the haredi community, or by the Tal Law, which gave military
exemptions to men who choose to study Torah full-time. The Tal Law was
passed by the Knesset in 2002 and canceled by the High Court of Justice this
year last month.
Despite the rapid increase in the employment rate of
haredi men, their participation in the business sector is still relatively low
compared to other Jews, the report said. Haredi employees work fewer hours than
other Jews, which reduces their wages and makes it more difficult to lift their
households above the poverty line, it said.
Bank of Israel Governor
Stanley Fischer has said the low level of labor participation among haredi men
is not sustainable and could hurt the country’s future prosperity. The
government has set a target of 63% employment among the community by
The government has been trying to push haredi men to enter the
workforce by cutting child allowances, funding academic study programs for the
religious and making special arrangements for army service. It has also been
trying to increase the number of working Arab-Israeli women.
country’s long-run stability will “remain in question” unless the low
participation level among haredi men and Arab-Israeli women is addressed, the
International Monetary Fund said in a February 13 report. It noted that severe
poverty is concentrated in these two groups and called on the government to tie
social benefits, such as child care, to employment.
While haredim account
for 8% to 10% of the population, their share of the main working-age population
is expected to rise to 17% in about 20 years because of their higher birth rate,
the Bank of Israel said.
The employment rate among non-haredi males was
81.4% in 2011, the central bank said.Bloomberg contributed to this
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