Israeli Life in Numbers: A Story of Yawning Economic Gaps

New data from the Central Bureau of Statistics provides a breakdown of several facets of Israeli life, including salaries, wealth concentration, and income gaps between society's various sectors.

The Central Bureau of Statistics released Tuesday a wealth of numbers that provide a by-the-numbers look at life in Israel, from salaries to wealth concentration to how much trash its various citizens accumulate.

According to the numbers, the financial situation of most of Israel’s local authorities has improved since the start of the previous decade.

In 2011, the number of local authorities operating at a deficit decreased, thanks to the fact that many authorities were able to balance their budgets and begin operating more efficiently.

Still, 88 local authorities — more than one-third of them — are still bleeding red ink (as compared with 103 local authorities in 2010). The local authorities’ accumulated deficit remains massive, at more than NIS 4 billion.

The deficit in the local authorities’ 2011 budget for amounted to NIS 132 million, a 14-percent decrease of their deficit in real terms as compared with that of 2010. If you deducting the loans that local authorities have taken to decrease their deficits, that number climbs to NIS 365.5 million. The local authorities’ expenditures in 2011 came to NIS 45.8 billion, an increase in real terms of 0.8 percent as compared with 2010, and their revenues came to NIS 45.6 billion.

These statistics provide a cross-section of the yawning gaps between Israel's various local authorities. Looking at the numbers for average salaries, men in Modi'in make an average of NIS 15,900 per month, while women lag far behind with only NIS 8,234. In northern communities closer to Tel Aviv, such as Ra'anana and Herzliya, salaries were also high, with the average male worker in Ra'anana earning 14,700 per month and the average female worker taking home NIS 7,800.

In comparison, the average monthly salary in Arab and Haredi communities is particularly low. In the ultra-Orthodox community of Elad, the gross salary for men was NIS 6,500 per month in 2010 and NIS 4,000 for women. In the Arab village of Abu Ghosh, men earned NIS 5,600 per month on average, while women earned NIS 3,700.

It should be noted that about 40 percent of workers in Israel earn less than the minimum wage.

Fifteen local authorities, including Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Haifa and Be’er Sheva are defined as “independent” — in other words, most of their budgets are based on independent revenues, and they do not receive balance grants from the state. The rest of the local authorities are quite dependent on the government. The government contributed only about 10 percent of Tel Aviv’s budget and only about 25 percent of the budgets of Haifa and Jerusalem. In comparison, it provides 40 percent of the budgets of Dimona, Ariel, Sderot and Bnei Brak, and 45 percent of the budgets of Tira and Elad. Revenues from the municipal property tax in Tel Aviv-Jaffa were 14 percent of the city’s annual income. In Jerusalem, this figure was 16 percent, and in Haifa it was 15 percent.

Most of the large local authorities in the center of the country ended 2011 with a budget surplus. Tel Aviv-Jaffa had a surplus of NIS 14 million, Jerusalem had a surplus of NIS 4 million, Rishon Lezion had a surplus of NIS 23.3 million and Herzliya’s surplus was NIS 17 million. Rishon Lezion had an accumulated surplus of NIS 80.6 million, and Herzliya had an accumulated surplus of NIS 60 million.

Despite the budget surpluses this year, Tel Aviv-Jaffa had an accumulated deficit of NIS 515.9 million as of 2011. Jerusalem has an accumulated deficit of NIS 273.5 million, Petah Tikva has an accumulated deficit of NIS 177.5 million and Be’er Sheva has an accumulated deficit of NIS 157 million.

Dimona ended 2011 with a deficit of about NIS 14 million (with loans deducted) and an accumulated deficit of NIS 28.7 million. Sderot had a deficit of NIS 31.5 million and an accumulated deficit of NIS 68 million, and Hadera finished 2011 with a deficit of NIS 10 million and an accumulated deficit of NIS 93.2 million.

A statistic that points to the standard of living in the various authorities is the average age of the cars. The average age of cars in Eilat is 8.6 years, and it is nine years in Abu Ghosh and Tira. In Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the average age of cars is only 4.8 years, and in Bnei Brak it is 2.2 years.

The highest amounts of trash were in Eilat (3.3 kilograms per person per day), in Ramat Hasharon and Tel Aviv-Jaffa (2.7), Herzliya (2.4) and Tiberias (2.2).
 

Alon Ron