Haredi Job Rates Same as Israeli Grade-School Dropouts'

Employment rates among ultra- orthodox men in Israel are similar to those of male elementary school dropouts, with both showing a “sharp” decline over the past three decades, according to a study released today.

Because haredi boys don’t study non-religious subjects beyond eighth grade, their preparedness for the modern labor market is similar to that of secular Jewish and Arab Israelis with no or almost no education, according to the study by the Jerusalem-based Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel.

“At the end of the 1970’s, when Israel’s standard of living was relatively low, education was not imperative for finding a job,” Dan Ben-David, executive director of the Taub Center, said in the statement. “Today, in a competitive and global Israeli economy, employment rates among the uneducated are below 50 percent.”

The research, which focuses on men age 35-54, shows that employment rates for non-haredi Jews and Arabs are nearly identical, both among the highly educated and the least educated groups. Rates for those with academic degrees have hovered around 90 percent in the past three decades.

On the other end of the spectrum, rates among those with fewer than four years of education, which were between 80 percent to 90 percent 30 years ago, have decreased to between 35 percent and 50 percent. Haredi male employment rates have been nearly identical to those of this group, the study shows.

The low labor-participation rate among ultra-orthodox men and the education of boys in this community have become divisive issues in Israel, as the relatively high birth rates of this community mean they make up an increasingly larger percentage of the population. While haredim make up approximately 8 percent to 10 percent of the population, more than 20 percent of the children in elementary school belong to this community.

“The data reflect the increasing lack of employment opportunities that the Haredi education system provides its sons,” Ben-David said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alisa Odenheimer in Jerusalem at aodenheimer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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