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Nearly half of Israelis taking economic hit over virus; 1 in 7 skipping meals

Nearly half of Israelis say they are worse off financially since the coronavirus pandemic and more than one in seven are afraid they will lose their home or say they have to cut back on food consumption, according to a government survey released Tuesday.

The poll by the Central Bureau of Statistics found that 44.6 percent of respondents said their financial situation had worsened.

Just over 16% of people report being greatly concerned they could lose their job, while 14.1% fear losing their place of residence, the Central Bureau of Statistics said.

Many Israelis lost their jobs or were put on leave as restrictions to contain the virus shut down large swaths of the economy, with unemployment rising from below 4% at the start of the outbreak to over 27.6% at the end of April.

The unemployment rate had dropped to 19.6% as of Sunday, with some Israelis returning to work as the government rolls back the measures it put in place to stop the virus from spreading.

According to the CBS survey, which was conducted between May 11 to 14, 46.5% of Israelis are concerned they won’t be able to cover all their expenses and 14.1% report they or a member of their household has cut down on the amount of food they ate over the past week.

Over the coming year, 18.3% of the population expects their financial situation to worsen, compared to 54.9% who believe it will remain the same and 26.7% who believe it will improve.

Those reporting a worse financial situation were divided sharply by age, with 20.6% of Israelis over 65 saying their finances had worsened, versus 50.4% among those who are younger.

Many of the survey results were identical or closely tracked those of a CBS poll from two weeks earlier, when 14.1% also said they or a member of their household cut back on food and 15.7% expressed concern about losing their homes.

In that poll, 46.1% said their financial situation had worsened, compared to 44.6% in the latest survey.

The 1,157 respondents to the latest poll also reported general feelings of anxiety.

Over a third of Israelis say they feel pressure or anxious and 18.4% report feelings of loneliness, down from 34.3% and 23.5%, respectively, in the last poll.

A fifth report their mental situation has worsened or significantly worsened during the pandemic.

Another 25.7% say the emotional situation of their children has gotten worse or much worse.

According to the poll, 53% of Israelis are concerned about being infected with COVID-19 and a vast majority said they are adhering to Health Ministry guidelines.

This included 79.7% who say they are physically distancing from others, 86.9% who wear a mask and 90% who are making a point to maintain hygiene.

Overall, 39% of Israelis say they had a great deal of confidence in the government’s handling of the pandemic, 29.9% have some confidence and 31.1% don’t have confidence.

For local councils, 42.6% say they have a great deal of confidence and 34.3% say have some confidence. No figure was provided for those who have no confidence in local authorities.

As of Monday, there have been 16,734 cases in Israel of coronavirus, 2,146 of which are still active, and 281 deaths.

Source: TOI