COVID Grants Lifted Only 1 of 50 Self-employed Israelis Above Poverty Line

Some 25,000 self-employed people and their family members fell into poverty in Israel in 2020, advocacy group reports

נתנאל גאמס
Netanel Gamss
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Demonstration against lack of financial compensation during pandemic, in Tel Aviv.
Demonstration against lack of financial compensation during pandemic, in Tel Aviv.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
נתנאל גאמס
Netanel Gamss

The various government aid plans rolled out during the coronavirus pandemic managed to lift only 1.8% of self-employed Israelis over the poverty line in 2020, according to an analysis by Dr. Roby Nathanson, economist at the Lahav organization, which represents Israel’s self-employed and small businesses.

The government’s aid for the self-employed was less effective than its aid for salaried workers, and it contributed less toward keeping them from falling into poverty, Nathanson found.

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His analysis was based on the National Insurance Institute’s poverty report published last week.

The report found that the self-employed were particularly hard hit, and were the only group with higher poverty rates. The report examined people of working age, including those who are unemployed, and people of pension age.

Some 25,000 self-employed people and their family members fell into poverty in 2020. Some 14.5% families whose wage-earner is self-employed were living in poverty last year, versus 12.8% in 2018 and 2019.

Attorney Roy Cohen, president of Lahav, says the analysis shows what the self-employed have been yelling for the past year.

“These numbers are likely to grow dramatically soon, as anyone who still hasn’t managed to lift their head above the water will likely start drowning over the next few months, as the entire economy remains shut,” he said.

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