Jerusalem '08: More tourists, fewer residents

Data released ahead of Jerusalem Day shows emigration from city rising, unemployment high.

Jerusalem 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jerusalem 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As Jerusalem readies to celebrate 41 years of unification, data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) Monday reveals that the capital suffers from emigration, which leaves the city with a majority of Arab and haredi populations. At the end of 2007, the city's total population numbered 746,300. However, 18,750 people decided to leave the city while only 12,360 moved in. Most of those who left Jerusalem left for Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Ma'ale Adumim and Mevaseret Zion. "The impact of migration is both on the positive and negative side," Yair Assaf-Shapira, a researcher for the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies said. "Those people who are leaving are not paying local taxes and their jobs may not be in the city. But the metropolitan area may be strengthened with localities such as Beit Shemesh and Givat Ze'ev, which have a center of life around Jerusalem." Simultaneously, the makeup of the city's remaining population becomes more homogeneous. A third of the city's population are Arabs, while a quarter are haredi. The main growth in the city comes not from immigration but from natural growth, especially among those two communities. At an average of four children per family, the birthrate in Jerusalem is far higher than in the rest of the country (2.75 children per family). Unemployment rates in the capital are also high: 9.4 percent of the city's residents are registered as unemployed, compared with 7.3% in the rest of the country. Additionally, only 35% of the city's 18-year-olds earn their matriculation diplomas. However, 86% of Jerusalem's residents say they are pleased or very pleased with their lives, one percent higher than the rest of the country. The Jerusalem Municipality reports that the number of tourists staying at Jerusalem hotels is five times higher than it was five years ago. The city's hotels recorded more then 3.5 million overnight stays in 2007, breaking the record high of 2000. Following a disastrous slide in 2001-2002, tourism in the city has completed a steady and thorough climb back to peak levels. "Jerusalem is the center of business, culture and academics in the State of Israel," Mayor Uri Lupolianski said Thursday. "The rising number of tourists and visitors is bringing success to businesses, restaurants and cultural centers, and creates new opportunities."