The unique employment characteristics in haredi society
There are a number of characteristics that are fundamentally different in haredi society than in the rest of the Israeli population. First, unlike the general education system, education in haredi society focuses on molding character, and not on preparation for the labor market. Another characteristic is that in many cases women are the main breadwinners, while the men are full-time Talmudic scholars. Another unique characteristic is family size. Haredim generally have large families, often resulting in the secondary breadwinner being more involved in raising the children and in household chores, such that the reliance on the main breadwinner is more substantial. Finally, there is the preference for a segregated lifestyle, away from general society: living in dedicated neighborhoods, a religious work environment, etc.
An analysis of the data reveals that on average, haredi women work 20% fewer hours per week than non-haredi women. Part-time work naturally means lower salaries – a substantive problem because these women are the main breadwinners in the family.
Another reason that average salaries are lower is the employment sectors in which women work: in haredi society, nearly 44% of women are employed in the education professions, in which average salaries are low, while in general society only 19% of the working public is employed in the education professions. The high percentage of women in this field is also the reason for the employers’ lack of respect for the women’s employee rights, because the women can easily be replaced.
Haredi men also work about 20% fewer hours on average than men in the general public. This is one of the reasons that employed haredi men earn an average of 45% less than their non-haredi counterparts. Similar to haredi women, the rate of men employed in education is greater than in the general population – about 30%, compared to 5%.
What prevents men from joining the labor market?
Haredi men who try to integrate into the labor market face several barriers: first and foremost is their education in a system that focuses on Torah studies, and lasts many years (usually at least until age 23 or 24). These young men complete their studies at a relatively advanced age and marry younger, relative to the rest of the population, resulting in haredi men starting to work when they already have children, who need to be supported and leave no opportunity for the men acquire vocational training. The family situation also has a positive side, in that the men demonstrate a high level of commitment to their jobs and have a strong work ethic.
*This article on the employment of haredim in haredi society was written in preparation for the annual JFN conference. In this article Nitsa (Kaliner) Kasir summarized the differences between haredi employment and employment in the rest of Israel’s population.