Unemployment benefits for young Israelis to end in July as economy reopens

State to halt funds for those younger than 28, as many choose not to return to work even as the pandemic fades and economy gradually gets back on track

Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2021. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2021. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The Finance Ministry announced Tuesday that as of July 1, Israelis under the age of 28 who do not have children will no longer be entitled to unemployment benefits.

The move comes as many young Israelis are choosing not to go back to work, even as the coronavirus pandemic fades and the economy gradually gets back on track.

The pandemic’s social distancing and lockdowns saw a sharp rise of young people being furloughed, as the dining, tourism and entertainment industries were largely closed during several lockdowns over the past year.

But even as those fields reopened, young workers appeared to be in no hurry to return to their jobs as state unemployment benefits remained in place.

The unemployment benefits these workers receive are similar to the wages they were making while employed, the Employment Service Bureau said in April.

Finance Minister Israel Katz holds a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on July 1, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

The decision to end the benefits was reached during a meeting between Finance Minister Israel Katz and senior officials of his office, following pressure from employers that are struggling to find workers, the Ynet news site reported.

On Tuesday, the last of a series of restrictions in place for over a year lapsed as case numbers continued to fall. The only major restrictions remaining are the mandate requiring masks to be worn indoors, expected to be lifted soon as well, and quarantine requirements for those entering the country.

The country’s unemployment rate fell to 5% in April, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced earlier this month. In total, roughly 450,000 people were out of work in April — 10.6% of the workforce.

The number of vacant job positions climbed by 10% in April to 130,000 — compares to less than 100,000 before the outbreak of the pandemic, the Globes business daily reported.

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