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Average salary falls as lower-paying industries continue pandemic recovery

Pay for Israeli workers drops 3% to NIS 11,300 per month, as employees return to hospitality and entertainment sectors

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

Israelis shop at the Azrieli mall in Tel Aviv, on July 13, 2021. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Israelis shop at the Azrieli mall in Tel Aviv, on July 13, 2021. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The average salary for Israeli workers fell by three percent in May to NIS 11,300 ($3,520) per month as lower-paying industries that were hit hard by the pandemic continued to recover.

The Central Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday that 3.5 million Israelis were employed in May, the most recent month for which data is available.

The hospitality sector saw a jump of 14.4% in employment in May, compared to the previous month, while the arts, entertainment and leisure industry saw an increase of 5.1%.

Employment in information and communication jobs climbed by 1.6%. All other areas saw a change of one percent or less.

At the bottom of the pay scale, the average salary for hospitality workers was NIS 5,179 ($1,612) per month. Israel’s minimum wage is NIS 5,300 ($1,650) per month, or NIS 29 ($9) per hour, likely indicating that many hospitality workers are not employed full time.

Israel’s 338,000 tech workers were the highest paid, with an average wage of NIS 24,893 ($7,751) per month.

The education sector employed the most people, with over 540,000 workers, followed by health and welfare services, with 501,000.

The overall employment number marked an increase of 1.1% over April of this year, of 15% over May 2020, and of 35% over April 2020, during Israel’s first national lockdown, highlighting the labor market’s recovery.

April 2020 saw the largest exodus of workers from the labor force due to the pandemic, with a drop of 28.5% in the number of salaried workers compared to the previous month.

The labor market has still not fully recovered, however. There were 268,000 fewer salaried workers in May than before the pandemic, in February of 2020, the report said.

On Monday, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Israel’s unemployment rate remained high last month, at 9%, representing a slight increase over June. The unemployment rate measures the number of people actively seeking work who cannot find employment. The figure may be slightly boosted due to the summer school holiday, when the education system tends to lay off workers, and some parents prefer to stay home to save on child care costs.

A total of 383,700 people were unemployed and on unpaid leave due to COVID-19 in the first half of July, according to the CBI. Before the pandemic, an estimated 150,000 Israelis, or 3.5%, were unemployed.

There are some 130,000 job vacancies nationwide, indicating a gap between employers and job-seekers, and a need for retraining for some of the unemployed.

The data released Monday reflects the unemployment level last month, before the Delta variant became widespread, which could further boost the unemployment rate.

The government ended unemployment benefits for most people under age 45 who lost their jobs due to the pandemic at the end of June.

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