Almost Twice as Many Women as Men Lost Jobs in Israel's Second Lockdown

Women accounted for 62.7 percent of the newly unemployed in September, an all-time high, while men accounted for just 37.3 percent

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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A woman throws products at a protest in Jaffa, October 15, 2020.
A woman throws products at a protest in Jaffa, October 15, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

Almost twice as many women as men were fired or put on unpaid leave when Israel’s second lockdown began in September, according to data released by the government’s Employment Service on Sunday.

Women accounted for 62.7 percent of the newly unemployed that month, an all-time high, while men accounted for just 37.3 percent. In actual numbers, that translates to 128,500 women and 75,850 men who lost their jobs.

Haaretz Podcast: Why is Israel arming Azerbaijan against Armenia? Listen to Yossi MelmanCredit: Haaretz

Since the coronavirus erupted in March, women have accounted for 55 percent of the unemployed, making September’s high figure exceptional.

A store on Allenby Street displays a 'for rent' sign, Tel Aviv, October 14, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Moreover, for the first time, more than a fifth of the new job-seekers in September were under 24 (20.5 percent). People in that age group constituted only 17.1 percent of the newly unemployed during the first lockdown in March.

Altogether, 205,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed in September – the highest number since March, when 850,000 people did. For every person who resumed working in September, 8.1 people lost their jobs.

Yet even in July and August, the number of newly unemployed exceeded the number who returned to work, albeit by much smaller margins.

As of 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 that 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 to the shutdown of the school system and the service industry, both fields where women outnumber men. Another reason may be that with schools and preschools closed, many women had to stay home to watch their children, while men were more focused on keeping their jobs.

People under 35 accounted for 49.5 percent of the newly unemployed in September, similar to the proportion in March (47 percent). This may be because many younger people work in retailing or restaurants – two industries that together accounted for one eighth of September’s unemployed.

People in this age group also constituted only 46.8 percent of those who returned to work in September, down from 55.8 percent in August.

But during the months between the two lockdowns, people 55 and older had the lowest rate of returning to work. That raises fears that older workers will also have trouble returning to work after the second lockdown.

The city with the biggest jump in unemployment as of September was Eilat, where the rate skyrocketed to 39.3 percent from 16.6 percent in August. This was mainly because the lockdown shut down its tourism industry.

The only city with an unemployment rate higher than Eilat’s last month was Betar Ilit (40.5 percent). Other cities with particularly high unemployment rates included Modi’in Ilit, 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 percent losing their jobs, up from 27 percent during the first lockdown in March. Managers also lost their jobs at a higher rate than during the first lockdown – nine percent.

The Employment Service said while many of the newly unemployed will return to work once the lockdown ends, those who don’t – and especially those who have been out of work since March – are likely to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed.

The service’s director general, Rami Garor said that to reduce this problem, Israel should adopt a model of paying employers to retain workers, like Germany and Canada did.

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