Nearly twice as many women as men were laid off or put on unpaid leave when Israel’s second closure began in September, according to data released by the Employment Service on Sundays.
Women accounted for 62.7 percent of the young unemployed that month, an all-time record, while men accounted for only 37.3 percent. In current numbers, this translates to 128,500 women and 75,850 men who have lost their jobs.
Since the coronavirus broke out in March, women have occupied 55 percent of the unemployed, making the high September counts extraordinary.
Moreover, for the first time, more than a fifth of new jobseekers in September were under 24 (20.5 percent). People in that age group accounted for only 17.1 percent of the newly unemployed during the first blockade in March.
In all, 205,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed in September, the highest number since March, when 850,000 people joined. For every person who resumed work in September, 8.1 people lost their jobs.
However, even in July and August, the number of newly unemployed exceeded the number who returned to work, albeit by much smaller differences.
By the end of September, the total number of unemployed stood at 944,500, up 20.9 percent from 781,300 at the end of August. Of this total, 64.9 percent, or 612,000 people, are on unpaid leave.
Employment Service officials attributed the high number of women who lost their jobs in September with the closure of the school system and the service industry, both areas where women outnumber men. Another reason may be that with schools and preschools closed, many women had to stay home to look after their children while men were more focused on keeping their jobs.
People under 35 accounted for 49.5 percent of the young unemployed in September, similar to the proportion in March (47 percent). This may be because many young people work in retail or restaurants two industries that together accounted for one-eighth of September unemployed.
People in this age group also accounted for only 46.8 percent of those who returned to work in September, up from 55.8 percent in August.
But during the months between the two blockages, people 55 and older had the lowest rate of return to work. This raises fears that older workers will also have trouble returning to work after the second block.
The city with the highest unemployment rate since September was Eilat, where the rate rose to 39.3 percent from 16.6 percent in August. This is mainly because the blockade shut down its tourism industry.
The only city with an unemployment rate higher than Eilats last month was Betar Ilit (40.5 percent). Other cities with particularly high unemployment rates included Modiin Ili, Bnei Brak, Umm al-Fahm, Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem, Rahat and Bat Yam. All but the last have high ultra-Orthodox and / or Arab populations.
Retail and service workers were particularly hard hit in September, with 35.4 per cent losing their jobs, up from 27 per cent during the first blockade in March. Managers also lost their jobs at a higher rate than during the first nine percent block.
The Employment Service said while many of the young unemployed will return to work once the blockade ends, those who do not want to and especially those who have been unemployed since March are likely to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed.
The director general of services, Rami Garor, said that to reduce this problem, Israel should adopt an employer pay model to retain workers, as Germany and Canada did.
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