Report Offers Chilling View of Israel's Working Poor

A single mother with two or more children will have to work 20 percent more than full time to escape poverty.

More than half of the poor families in Israel have jobs, and that number has increased in recent years, according to new data published by the National Insurance Institute in its latest report.

The report also states poverty among working families has deepened.

Ron Nagar -  Nir Keidar - 30112011
Nir Keidar

According to the NII's data, a single mother with two or more children will have to work 20 percent more than full time, or in other words, to find extra funds equal to a fifth of her income in order to escape poverty. Couples with more than two children will also be unable to escape poverty, even if both parents work - one full time and the other part-time - and receive minimum wage.

Ron Nagar, 47, from Petah Tikva says he doesn't have a bank account or any savings, despite the fact that he works part time for the city. "I want to be sharp like everyone else. I know that I have to work harder than other people because, what can I do, I begin from zero or even a minus in the bank, but my dream is simply to have a credit card," he said.

Two of Nagar's children from his first wife are already over 18, and he raises his daughter, 13, with his current wife. Nagar, who earns NIS 2,000 a month, is a living illustration of the expression "living from hand to mouth."

His wife works full time, also for the municipality, but they still find it hard to make ends meet. Soon the lease of their apartment will be over, and they're afraid they'll become homeless.

"What can I do? I'm looking for an apartment around here," he said. "I pay NIS 2,500 before municipality taxes and water. On the other side of the road apartments like this cost NIS 3,000. Soon the lease will be over but I have belief. Whatever has to happen will happen. My first instinct is to always find a solution, and there is a solution. Now all I need is to be heard. I don't want to shout 'I haven't got a home,' but it's something that's happening all over Israel, not just here. It feels like the state is giving up on people. They gave up on me."

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: לא סוגרים את החודש: "החלום - כרטיס אשראי"