According to figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK – TurkStat), Turkey’s unemployment rate increased marginally to 13.8% in January 2020, up from 13.7% in December 2019. The figure for the month of January of the previous year was 14.7%. The rate for January 2020 comprises all those of 15 years of age and above, and represents a total figure of unemployed of 4,362,000, a decrease of 306,000 on the figure for the same month of the previous year.
The unemployment rate for people aged between 15 and 64 was given as 14.1%, the estimated unemployment rate for those outside agriculture was given as 15.7%, and the unemployment rate among the young, which comprises of people aged between 15 and 24, was given as 24.5% in January 2020.
The number of people in the workforce in January 2020 was 27,266 thousand people, some 109 thousand more than the same month of the previous year. This labour force total was 44% of the total population over 15 years of age. The number of workers available for work in January 2020 is 31,629 thousand, a fall of 196 thousand on the same month of the previous year and 51% of the total population over 15 years of age.
There is much criticism of TurkStat’s employment statistics because of its definition of unemployed as those who have registered for unemployment within the last four weeks, whereas before 2014, this period was three months. Based on many other sources such as trade unions, the real unemployment rate is at least two times the official TurkStat calculation.
The currently official high rate in unemployment is as a result of the on-going economic crisis in Turkey and the contraction in the economy especially in the first half of 2019. The marginal increase in January is despite the 6% growth in the economy in the fourth quarter of 2019. This is because growth has been created by cheaper credit which has pushed up consumer spending and imports rather than any significant increase in investment and production levels. Since the economic recession is expected to continue during 2020, no immediate improvement in employment levels is expected. The unemployment rate was recently as high as 14.7% in February 2019 which was the highest monthly rate since it hit 14% in 2009 following the global financial crisis.