Haredi Male Employment Up 28 Percent

According to data released by the Bank of Israel, the number of employed men among Israel's most ultra-religious sector has seen a huge jump over the past 10 years.

Hila Weisberg
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Hila Weisberg

The employment rate for Haredi men increased 10 percentage points between 2002 and 2011, according to a report published by the Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Research the Institute for National Policy Research.

The increase was from 35 percent to 45 percent of the total Haredi male working age population, the report says.

The figures represent a 28-percent increase from the employment figure for Haredi men at the beginning of the decade and were based on data provided by the Bank of Israel.

The Neaman Institute's report, by researchers Dr. Reuven Gal and Ilia Zatcovetsky, deals with Haredi participation in institutions of higher education and the army. According to the report, the number of Haredi students in academic institutions today reaches 7,300 individuals, only about 10 percent of the relevant Haredi age cohort.

Nevertheless, these numbers are a significant jump from the 3,000 Haredi students in academic institutions in 2005.

The survey first published by the Bank of Israel this March showed that the employment rate of Haredi men rose from 38 percent to 45 percent between 2009 and 2011. According to the Bank of Israel, the main source of employment growth of Haredi men between 2009 and 2011 was in the business sector, where the rate of working Haredi men grew from 18 to 24.5 percent of all working-age Haredi men. The employment rate for Haredi women remained stable over the last two years, at around 60 percent.

The government has set a target employment rate of 63 percent for both Haredi men and women by 2020.

It is important to qualify that among Israeli labor market experts, the official employment rate of 45 percent for Haredi men appears to be inflated. The explanation provided by the Bank of Israel for its employment figure was that it relied on the Central Bureau of Statistics' expanded definition of "ultra-Orthodox" to categorize work survey respondents. According to the Bank, if a more restrictive definition of ultra-Orthodox were to be used the employment for Haredi men would be 38 percent.

Tel Aviv University economist Professor Eran Yashiv, an Israeli labor market researcher, states that in light of the rapid pace of growth in the Haredi population, a huge amount of new labor market entrants for the Haredi would be required for the male employment rate to reach 45 percent.

"It doesn't sound or appear logical," says Yashiv. "We don't have on-the-ground information that would point to a massive entrance of Haredi men into the workplace. This sounds too good to be true, so I am a bit doubtful."

In the business sector, the rate of working Haredi men grew from 18 to 24.5 percent of all working-age Haredi men.Credit: Eyal Toueg