Half of Israelis say financial situation has worsened during virus lockdown

Half of Israelis say financial situation has worsened during virus lockdown

Central Bureau of Statistics survey finds that 14 percent of Israelis say they have skipped meals due to economic meltdown, while a third report they have experienced stress

Shoppers at the usually packed Malha Mall in Jerusalem after it reopened May 7, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Shoppers at the usually packed Malha Mall in Jerusalem after it reopened May 7, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Around a third of Israelis have reported feelings of stress, almost half that their financial situation has worsened, while 14 percent said they or a member of their household had to cut down on food or skip meals since the start of the pandemic, according to a survey of civil resilience conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics in the final week of April .

Despite the figures, some 38% said they had full faith in the government and the measures it was taking to combat the coronavirus. Among Israeli Arabs that figure jumps to 49%. An additional 33.6% of the overall population said they had a measure of faith in the government.

The survey was conducted in cooperation with the National Security Council and the Prime Minister’s Office among a representative sample of 1,300 Israelis over the age of 21.

Some 1.9 million people or 34.3% reported feelings of stress, while 16.2% reported symptoms of depression and 23.5% said they felt lonely. Some 25.8% reported that their children’s emotional state had deteriorated. Just over 20% said their mental health had deteriorated.

A closed down cafe on Nachalat Binyamin Street in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2020 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Some 55.7% of the population said they were concerned about being infected with the virus.

Around 2.5 million people, or 46.1% of the population said their financial situation had worsened, while just over 50 percent said they were concerned about being able to meet expenses. Among Israeli Arabs, the number of those who said their financial situation had worsened jumped to 57%.

Of people who live in a multi-person household, some 22.6% said there had been increased tensions among members of the household.

Some 5.4% of participants said their physical health had deteriorated during the lockdown, with 11.2% reporting that one member of their household had been in quarantine.

With the economy at a near-halt, jobless figures spiked to over 1.2 million in April, bringing the unemployment rate to an unprecedented 27%, from below 4% pre-coronavirus.

Economists believe it will take a year or more for Israel’s economy to recover from the crisis, and some businesses may be permanently hobbled.

Self-employed Israelis participate in a rally calling for financial support from the government outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, on April 19, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Protests by various groups demanding increased government help have been held almost daily in recent weeks, even as authorities have begun to take steps to open the economy back up in line with dwindling numbers of new coronavirus infections.

One of those groups is the self-employed, who have long complained of mistreatment by state and tax authorities, who they say take large amounts of their income but provide no social security benefits enjoyed by salaried employees.

Israel has so far granted the self-employed a payment of up to NIS 6,000 ($1,700) to help them weather the pandemic and last week approved a plan including a second stipend equaling 70% of their regular income up to a maximum amount of NIS 10,500 ($3,000). But for many Israelis living paycheck to paycheck, the stipends, which may be slow to reach their bank accounts, are not enough.

A malfunction in the Tax Authority website this week meant tens of thousands of Israelis would have to reenter their requests for grants after losing their income due to the coronavirus crisis.

Some 30,000 people — one of every five who registered for their unemployment benefits — were notified Thursday morning via text message that their details hadn’t been saved properly.

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