The Yedid Association for Community Empowerment reported an 18% rise in the number of unemployed people seeking the association's help in the past three months, with over 60% of them having immigrated to Israel in the past 10 years.
What makes these numbers more concerning is the fact that over half of the unemployed immigrants turning to the association are over the age of 45, which will make it even harder for them to find new jobs. The rise in the number of assistance-seeking workers has risen by 9% compared to the first half of 2008.
The troubles faced by new immigrants were also evident in Israel Employment Service data from October, which stated that 79,500 people that were not born in Israel applied for unemployment allowances.
Out of this group, 15,300 were new immigrants that arrived in Israel in recent years. Sixty-two percent of the unemployed immigrants were women. In addition, two-thirds of the unemployed are over the age of 45. About one fifth of the all unemployed immigrants hold academic degrees.
'Don't know how I will get by'
Vladimir is a 47-year-old electric engineer who immigrated to Israel six years ago. He and his wife attended a two-year training course and both were integrated into jobs in their professions. Two weeks ago, Vladimir received a letter of termination due to company cut backs.
"I received a termination letter, and while I am an optimist by nature, I don't know if I will be able to get by. At my age, it's not that easy to find a new workplace. And because of the economic crisis, many places are shutting down and the number of available jobs is shrinking," Vladimir told Ynet.
"I've become accustomed to a certain standard of living and now I will have to downsize," he said, "And I have this large mortgage and I don't know if I will be able to pay it back just on my wife's salary. I'm afraid they will take the apartment from us."
Vladimir lives in an apartment with his wife and three daughters, two of which are college students, while one was recently discharged from the army.
Many unemployed people show up at one of the 24 Yedid centers throughout Israel seeking legal aid in light of their new status. Thursday night, the association's field workers held a special meeting to discuss the situation.
Yedid workers said the economic crisis has led to some new patterns, for example, high-tech workers who used to donate to the association, have shown up to volunteer, after being fired from their regular jobs.
The association's centers have also reportedly been flooded with 'returning customers', meaning people who have received aid in the past and have had their mortgage payments split up, but are now unable to meet the new payments.