COVID unemployment benefits cost state 39 billion shekels – report

Israel has paid more than 39 billion shekels ($ 12 billion) in unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID epidemic, according to figures from the National Insurance Institute.

The benefits have been paid to 1.2 million Israelis who have lost their income due to the pandemic, Channel 12 reported Thursday evening, based on the figures. From March to the end of 2020, unemployment benefits cost the state 23.5 billion shekels, and 15.5 billion shekels have been paid so far in 2021.

The unemployment model adopted in March 2020 ended on Thursday after the Knesset voted to update the program and drastically cut benefits. Under the new law, the majority of Israelis under the age of 45 will stop receiving benefits. Those over 45 will see their current payment level reduced and their benefits will continue until the end of October.

More than 200,000 people stopped receiving benefits on July 1 under the new plan, according to Channel 12, and about 182,000 will continue to receive them for some time.

According to the National Insurance Institute, anyone who loses their job after July 1 will be assessed according to standard unemployment laws that existed before COVID. But the period of time an employee must have worked before they can claim unemployment has been lowered from 12 months to six months.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman had pushed for sweeping changes to the existing unemployment model to get people – especially young people – to return to work.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (center) attends the Eli Horowitz Conference for Economy and Society, hosted by the Israel Institute of Democracy, in Jerusalem on June 29, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

According to Liberman, the move will help fill some 130,000 vacancies, as the economy has come back to life with the near eradication of the coronavirus.

The Central Bureau of Statistics announced last month that there were 133,000 positions available in May, the highest number since statistics began to be kept in 2009.

Meanwhile, unemployment in May rose from 203,700 to 209,300. However, the number of people absent from work due to the coronavirus rose from 118,900 in April to 69,800 in May, according to CBS figures.

The director general of the National Insurance Institute, Meir Spiegler, told Channel 12 that the new law “is balanced, progressive and provides a solution to a number of populations who have fallen into crisis and have not still found the ability to enter the labor market “.

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