Hareidi men in Bnei Brak (illustrative)
Hareidi men in Bnei Brak (illustrative)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Israel’s official unemployment rate is low, but that does not reflect the country’s economic reality, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Tuesday, speaking at the Building Tomorrow conference at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv.

“Unemployment in Israel is low, under seven percent, but it is artificially low,” Lapid said. In fact, he said, entire sectors of society are not employed, but are not counted as “unemployed” because they are not seeking work.

He named hareidi-religious men and Arab women as two groups that rarely join the workforce.

“They aren’t listed as unemployed because they aren’t even looking for work. We’re changing that now,” he said.

“The plan for ‘equal burden of service,’ along with the national plan for job training that we are currently creating along with the Ministry of Economy and Trade, will change the Israeli workforce,” Lapid declared. “We will train people to work in high-tech and in production, we will encourage local entrepreneurship and small businesses, and we will boost industrial areas in the north and south.”

“It will make your lives easier, too,” he told his audience. “It will move people who are currently listed under the expense category ‘welfare’ to the income category ‘tax-payers.’ It will add industrial zones that will pay high city tax, allowing you to improve the infrastructure, and to demand more from us.”