With unemployment under 4% and wages rising, it’s a great time to be a worker in Israel. Unless, that is, your occupation is dying out.
Typists and clerks have lost out to computers and other forms of automation, while gas station attendants are no longer in demand as self-service pumps become the default. As a Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry report issued Tuesday shows, these occupations saw their numbers fall by over 10% in 2012-16.
Other jobs are showing signs of obsolescence by virtue of the fact that the people still in them are aging, the study found. The demand for tailors has fallen victim to cheaper clothes that people toss rather than fix. In 2016, 66% of tailors were over 45, up from 55% in 2012.
Among engravers 76% were over 45, up 13 percentage points in four years. Bus drivers also got older – 64% versus 61%, though that may be because the job is no longer considered attractive (there’s a shortage.)
Driving instruction is also an aging profession, with 69% of teachers over 45, compared with 66% in 2012 – and that’s years before self-driving cars are expected to become widespread.
Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that these occupation don’t pay well. Office clerks’ median monthly salary in 2016 was 6,200 shekels ($1,770 at current exchange rates). Typists earned 5,800 shekels, telephone sales representatives 5,774 and gas jockeys 4,750.
As Labor Ministry Director General Mordechai Elisha noted in the report, policy makers need to get a grip on an evolving labor market to keep schools, universities and retraining programs relevant.
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“Rapid technological changes – those already under way and those expected in the future – are already having a profound impact on the labor market. Existing professions are expected to undergo change or even disappear while new professions will emerge, and the required skills in the labor market are changing with them,” he said.
What professions are Israelis going into? Judging by the average age of the workforce, occupational therapist and photographer are the professions of the future: In each, 47% of the people in them are between 25 and 34.
Application programming is also a young profession, with 42% of people in the field under 35. Some 41% of interior designers are also between 24 and 35, the Labor Ministry study found.
The jobs that have shown the biggest pay increases in 2012-16 where you would expect to find them, in high-tech. Software developers saw their pay jump 40% in those years, to an average of 28,443 shekels a month, well over double the average for all jobs in Israel. Electrical engineers’ pay rose 48%, to 23,392.
Strangely, marketing and advertising consultants also enjoyed a big pay rise in the period – 45%, albeit to just 14,669 shekels a month on average. Machine technicians saw their salaries rise one-third, to a monthly average of 13,676 shekels.
Researchers say the global labor market is seeing growing numbers of self-employed and freelancers, a trend encouraged by the growth of the gig economy of Uber drivers and eBay merchants.
If so, the trend hasn’t yet reached Israel. The Labor Ministry survey found that from 1995 to 2017, the rate of self-employed people rose to just 7.9% of the labor market from 6.4%. Among men, the rate was unchanged, while among women the rate of self-employment doubled.
The report noted that more Israelis than ever hold jobs or are actively looking for them, as more women, ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs enter the workforce. In 2018, the labor force participation rate had risen to 78.3%, five percentage points above the average for countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
That said, the rates differ widely among population groups, from 88% for non-Haredi Jewish men and 83% for non-Haredi Jewish women to 50.2% for Haredi men and 38.2% for Arab women.
Moreover, labor productivity, the key to ensuring long-term pay increases and rising standards of living, remains far below the norm for OECD countries. In 2017, it worked out to $35.70 an hour, about three-fourths the OECD average of $48.20. That ratio has remained unchanged since 2001, the Labor Ministry report noted.
While the average pay for Israelis in the prime working ages of 25 to 64 was 11,500 shekels a month in 2017, pay varied sharply among groups. Non-Haredi Jewish men earned an average of 15,300 shekels, while their Haredi and Arab counterparts earned just 8,300.
Women earned less than men all around, although the gaps were narrower. Wages for non-Haredi Jewish women averaged 9,990 shekels, versus 7,500 for Haredi women and 5,700 for Arab women.
For the latter, language is a major barrier to well-paid employment: The report found that 60% of Israeli Arab women who say they are fluent in Hebrew worked outside the home, compared to just 10% for those with weaker Hebrew.
Among Ethiopian Israelis, the workforce participation rate is 78%, not far below the non-Haredi Jewish rate of 85%. But pay is much lower – an average of 7,746 shekels a month, versus 13,900.