More working families falling into poverty

According to the 2011 Poverty Report, a quarter of Israelis are poor, and work does not guarantee an escape.

The rate of poverty rose slightly in 2011 to 24.8% of the total population from 24.4% in 2010. The proportion of poor families was 19.9%, compared with 19.8% in 2010. The figures are from the National Insurance Institute's annual Poverty Report, presented today by the Institute's director Shlomo Mor-Yosef and Minister of Welfare Moshe Kahlon.

According to the report, the negative trend of more and more working people joining the ranks of the poor continues. The rate of poverty among families in which there is at least one breadwinner reached 13.8% in 2011, compared with 13.2% in 2010. A decade ago, according to the report, the incidence of poverty among working families was just 7%. The number of poor working families as a proportion of the total of poor families has risen to 64%.

The rate of poverty in families where both parents work has risen even more substantially, from 5% in 2010 to 6.7% in 2011. In other words, tens of thousands of couples get up to go to work in the morning, and return to poverty.

"The figures show that work is not always enough to escape poverty," Mor-Yosef said. "We must find a way to ensure that people who work will not be poor," he added.

According to the report, the rate of poverty among children rose slightly in 2011 to 35.6%, from 35.3% in 2010. There were also slight rises in the numbers of single-parent families, haredi (ultra-orthodox Jewish) families, and Arab families in the poverty statistics. The only slight falls were in the rates of poverty among new immigrants (down to 16.3% from 16.7%) and old people (19.4% from 19.6%).

The National Insurance Institute stated that the slight improvement in the situation of the aged was a direct consequence of a small rise in allowances paid to them, evidence that welfare allowances rescue people from poverty.

"2011 may have been a year of economic growth and falling unemployment, but unfortunately the growth did not trickle downwards," said Kahlon. "The poor remained poor, and did not benefit from the fruits of growth," he added. Kahlon pointed out that, on the whole, the figures indicated stability in the poverty trends, but he declared; "In my view, if there's no improvement, that's a deterioration, and the time has come to put a stop to this. Poverty is not a decree of fate; when a child is born, it's not written anywhere that he has to be poor."

According to Kahlon, the current report proves that government intervention, such as happened in the cases of immigrants and old people, helped to reduce poverty in these populations. "This shows that if we want, it's possible." Kahlon apologized for the fact that his retirement from politics left him in the position of "an advice giver", as he put it, but he stressed that the most important thing that the government needed to do was to set a clear goal for reducing the rate of poverty to the prevailing level in other OECD countries.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on November 29, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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