Jerusalem by numbers

Jerusalem is a city suffering from increasing out-migration, a decreasing Jewish population and one of the lowest percentages of participation in the work force in Israel.

The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies (JIIS) published its annual Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem for the year 2004 earlier this week. Dr. Maya Choshen, the Yearbook author, says that a close examination of the figures reveals that Jerusalem is a city suffering from increasing out-migration, a decreasing Jewish population and one of the lowest percentages of participation in the work force in Israel and in the Western World. The population of Jerusalem at the end of 2004 numbered 706,400, comprising 10 percent of the total population of the State of Israel. Thirty percent of the city's residents are haredim, and 95% of the 237,100 Arab residents are Moslems. The number of people leaving Jerusalem during the year 2004 reached a peak of 18,100, while only 11,400 joined the city, 2,300 of them immigrants. The balance of negative immigration for the year 2004 totals 6,700, compared to 5,000 in the year 2003. "The number of people emigrating from the city has been on the rise for two years, but this finding reflects a new high," says Choshen. In addition to the increase in out-emigration, the percentage of Jews in the city decreased, and stood at 66% at the end of the year 2004. Two hundred and forty thousand people have left Jerualem over the past 15 years, and according to Choshen, this is one of the most telling findings. As a measure of comparison, she notes that this is tantamount to the entire population of Ashdod emptying out their city. The negative balance stands at 93,700 most of them Jews, including haredim. With 224,000 students, the city's education system is the largest in the city. Nearly 46% of the students are in the haredi education system. "The number of school children in Jerusalem is greater than the total number of residents of Rishon Lezion, which is one of the largest cities in Israel," Choshen observed. Jerusalem's citizens don't work very much: only 45% of the population participate in the work market, compared to 61% in Tel Aviv and 55% nationally. This is much lower than the norm in Europe, where, for example, the level of participation in the work force is approximately 70% or even higher. According to Choshen, Arab women and haredi men, motivated by ideological and/or religious considerations, have the most effect on this finding. Choshen further says that the total number of people employed in the city, including those who live within Jerusalem and those who do not, is about 218,500. By comparison, she notes that the total number of people employed in Tel Aviv is 329,600. A further inspection of the data regarding the percentage of residents in the city who are gainfully employed reveals one of Jerusalem's deepest problems: while in Tel Aviv 91% of the workforce is employed, in Jerusalem only 32% are employed. "This is what makes Tel Aviv an economic metropolis, a city with tremendous economic power that radiates into other areas," Choshen emphasizes. A lone ray of light shines in from the data on tourism, where the upswing trend that began in late 2003 has continued. The number of nights in Jerusalem in 2004 rose to 47%, while the hotel room occupancy rose from 30% to 37%. Municipal spokesman Gidi Schmerling responded to these findings by saying that the municipality has taken a number of steps to decrease the emigration out of the city over the next few years. Among these steps, he mentioned the "Lupolianski package," which provides incentives to young couples, students, and developers. He further presented the increase in the number of cultural activities in the past summer as another means to convince the city's residents to remain here. However, Mayor Uri Lupolianski said that, "only the implementation of the plan for west Jerusalem, known as the Safdie Plan, will solve Jerusalem's demographic problem."