Tani Goldstein 03.23.11
Bank of Israel governor presents grim figures on economic situation in Arab, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish sectors. 'We must encourage the employment of Arab workers,' he says
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer on Tuesday presented figures showing that the poverty rate in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors has gone up by more than 50% in the past decade, while remaining unchanged at around 13% among the general population.
Speaking at the Prime Minister's Conference, held under the banner of "Partnership and Growth", Fischer said that "the poverty rate has increased only among the Arabs and haredim."
According to the central bank government, among the haredim this situation stems from a variety of reasons, including high natural growth and low employment rates among men.
In the Arab sector, however, poverty stems from very low employment rate among women and because men work in jobs which do not profit from the economic growth, unlike the high-tech and service industries.
He presented data showing that 45% of Arab men are industry and construction workers compared to only 22% of Jewish men.
"There is no doubt that part of the difference between the salary of Arab workers in the labor market and the salary of others stems from discrimination," said Fischer. "The Bank of Israel has engaged in empirical studies aimed measuring or estimating the influence of factors which do not exist here – age, the father's native country, level of education and marital status."
The conference was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias, Eyal Gabai, director-general of the Prime Minister's Office; OECD officials; mayors and council heads; company executives; academics; and civil society representatives.
Problems and obstructions delaying the integration of minority sectors in the Israeli economic growth were presented during the conference. Solutions were suggested for removing the three main obstacles: Bank funding for business development, integration into the high-tech industry, and economic empowerment of the local authorities.