Israel’s economy is already feeling the brunt of its current third lockdown. After going into effect on Friday, roughly 20,742 Israelis have filed for unemployment, the Employment Service reported on Sunday.
Since the less-intensive lockdown began in late December, more than 80,668 people have registered as unemployed, the Employment Service said. They have joined close to 800,000 other people in Israel now without jobs.
Economists have cautioned that the lockdown will result in 100,000 unemployed and that it will come at a cost to the economy of roughly NIS 3 billion a week. The current nationwide closure is estimated to endure for at least two weeks and probably even longer as Israel attempts to limit increasing coronavirus infection rates.
The data doesn’t include small businesses or the self-employed whose livelihoods have been decimated by the lockdowns. Entrepreneurs in the fields of dining, tourism, and entertainment were among those hit hardest . The government recently approved an economic stimulus plan that features grants of up to NIS 9,000 for some small businesses. But that isn’t nearly enough to compensate for the roughly 80,0000 businesses that were forced to close in 2020.
Experts are concerned that the dent in the Israeli economy will endure long after the lockdowns are over. Israel’s unemployment rate fell from a robust 3.4% in December 2019 to approximately 15%. In April, it hit a high of 22%.\
The ongoing recession has forced thousands of Israelis from the middle class into poverty, with people in low-skilled jobs, young workers and those near retirement age impacted the hardest, a recent report by the Taub Center demonstrated.
Furthermore, the closing of schools costs Israeli households roughly NIS 850 million a week, as at least one parent in approximately 70% of Israeli families were forced to cut back work hours to take care of their children, according to a recent report by the Berl Katznelson Foundation.
Returning to full employment will likely take several years. The Ministry of Finance believes that the unemployment rate will range anywhere from 7.2%-10.2% a year for several years and gradually decline afterwards.