TEL AVIV (JTA) — The number of Israelis below the poverty line has risen for the first time since 2011.
Approximately 1.7 million Israelis live in poverty, including more than 770,000 children, according to a report released Wednesday by Israel’s National Insurance Institute. The share of families below the poverty line grew to 18.8 percent last year from 18.6 percent in 2013, while the poverty rate among children rose to 31 percent from 30.8 percent. Altogether, the number of poor Israelis increased by more than 50,000.
In 2014, poverty in Israel was worst among haredi Orthodox Jews and Arabs. More than half of both communities live below the poverty line.
The rise last year came after a steady decline in Israeli poverty from 2011 to 2013. The report also found that poverty had deepened in Israel in 2014. Poor Israelis were nearly 6 percent further below the poverty line on average than in 2013.
The report also found a rise in wealth inequality in Israel. Israel has the sixth-worst wealth inequality — slightly better than the United States — in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of wealthy states. Israel is the second-poorest country in the OECD, behind Mexico.
The rise in Israeli poverty comes despite a relatively healthy overall economy. Israel’s gross domestic product grew 2.6 percent in 2014 and its unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent.