Since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, Israel's unemployment payouts have quadrupled the annual average and have set new records, Ynet has learned on Monday.
According to the National Insurance Institute, the state has paid over NIS 16 billion in unemployment payouts between March and September - the highest such sum ever paid to the country's unemployed since its inception.
Before the outbreak, unemployment payments amounted to some NIS 330 million a month on average, or about NIS 4 billion a year. Even during past periods of recession and high unemployment, payments have not exceeded more than several billion a year.
This steep hike in benefits also stems from a government policy that allows hundreds of thousands of citizens who have been furloughed by their employers during the pandemic to file for unemployment just like citizens who have lost their jobs.
The number of citizens eligible for unemployment varied between 445,000 in July and August to a record-high 895,000 in April. In September, 513,000 jobless or furloughed workers received unemployment benefits, a figure that is predicted to rise significantly as 200,000 further people have been placed on unpaid leave since the beginning of the second nationwide lockdown.
Earlier in the year, Knesset approved a plan to provide a cash stipend of at least NIS 750 to every Israeli over the age of 18 and an additional amount for every child. The plan's cost amounted to over NIS 7.3 billion since the beginning of August.
The National Insurance Institute is still trying to locate tens of thousands of citizens who are eligible for such stipends and have yet to collect it. The program will end on November 15.