Economic fallout from coronavirus in Israel could lead to half a million unemployed by the beginning of 2021, government officials said Sunday.
The unemployment rate in the country skyrocketed over the past few months due to the economic lockdown imposed on the country as a result of COVID-19 outbreak, reaching a record-breaking 27.5% in mid-April.
Government's economy and welfare officials said prior to the health crisis Israel's unemployment rate was among the lowest in the world, ranging from 3.4% to 4.2% for the past four years - averaging between 160,000 and 180,000 jobless.
This current estimate, however, puts the unemployment rate around 10%-11% by January of 2021.
Since the onset of he pandemic about 250,000 Israelis have lost their jobs and almost a million were put on unpaid leave. Although many have returned to work, the number of unemployed is still currently estimated at around 950,000.
Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli urged the government to promote programs that guarantee subsidies to the unemployed, which would not overwhelm the welfare system, and use more aggressive incentives to integrate them back into the workforce.
A senior Finance Ministry official said last week they hoped government-funded incentives for employers will help them reinstate many workers who were put on unpaid leave. However, the official added those who will not return to work in June, will likely remain on a leave of absence for months.
Tens of thousands more might lose their jobs in the future, especially those employed in businesses that struggle to bounce back from the crisis, such as dining, aviation, and tourism.
In additon, many of those still on unpaid leave might not receive their unemployment payment this month due to the emergency measures applied during lockdown being lifted.
The national labor union center, Histadrut, petitioned several government ministries to amend the current legislation in order to secure unemployment benefits for some 300,000 jobless in the month of June.
The Finance Ministry said to prefer to encourage employers to reinstate their workers in exchange for a government grant rather than pay monthly unemployment sum.