A report released on Thursday reveals that while Israel's
rates in 2011 were similar to those in 2010, the number of workers who are considered poor has risen, as did the number of children living below the poverty line.
According to the report, prepared by the National Insurance Institute
(NII), general poverty rates have risen from 19.8% in 2010 to 19.9% in 2011, despite the fact that more people have entered the job market in the previous year.
The most surprising finding was the sharp rise in poverty rates among families with two incomes or more – a population that was traditionally considered immune to poverty – a rise of over 2% from 2010.
According to the report, 442,200 Israeli families (1,838,600 people) live below the poverty line, including 860,900 children.
Protest outside Beit Sokolov where report was announced (Photo: Benny Deutsch)
Poverty rates among the elderly however continued to drop, as in previous years. From a record high of 25.1% in 2004, poverty rates among the elderly have dropped to 19.4% in 2011.
According to the NII, "The current report shows no dramatic change as we did not witness any major change in unemployment rates or pensions in 2011. Nevertheless, the bigger picture is very disconcerting. Israel continues to be at the top when it comes to poverty and economic inequality rates in the Western world."
NII Director Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef noted that "Stability in poverty is no accomplishment. Compared to international rates, Israel has a lot to strive for in terms of poverty and inequality, to reach average OECD rates.
"In order to achieve that, policy makers must work on various levels: invest in education, offer proper training for job seekers, encourage employment, ensure adequate wages and allocate funds to those who struggle with unemployment."
Eran Weintraub, General Manager of Latet, an organization that aids underprivileged populations, said in response: "This information proves the fact that Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon, the current Israeli government and previous governments failed in handling poverty."