The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), the Turkish government agency commissioned with producing official statistics on Turkey’s population, resources, economy, society, and culture, has announced the unemployment figures of March 2020 on Wednesday. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.9 percent and become 13.2 percent compared to the same month of the previous year, according to the recent data released by TurkStat.
In late May 2020, the Turkish government had appointed Muhammed Cahit Şirin, who is married to Elif Esen, the Principal Clerk of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife Emine Erdoğan, as the Head of TurkStat.
Evaluating the recent unemployment figures announced by TurkStat, the Labour Center of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) said in its report, ‘‘Official statistics regarding unemployment rates in Turkey are consciously given lower than the reality by the government, but unemployment is not actually falling. As the broad definition of unemployment reached 26.2 percent in March, the number of unemployed was 8.9 million in the country.’’
Underlining that the broad unemployment in Turkey has increased by 5 percent in the recent year, the Labour Center of TKP stated that TurkStat excludes a large part of the population from the labour force and doesn’t include them in calculating the unemployment rate to conceal the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial crisis in the country.
‘‘The number of people who are ready to work but stopped looking for a job because of being hopeless about finding employment has increased by approximately 1.5 million people in the recent year,’’ the Labour Center of TKP also noted, adding that the number of people who withdrew from the workforce for other reasons increased by 918 thousand.
‘‘In March, when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in Turkey, 375 thousand people were withdrawn from the workforce, but TurkStat did not explain the reason behind it in its report.’’
‘‘As the labour force decreased by 2.2 million people in the first three months of 2020 according to the data of TurkStat, this fall has reached 3.3 million people in the recent year,’’ the Labour Center of TKP highlighted.
Pointing out that workers in Turkey give up looking for a job because they abandoned hope to find employment, the Labour Center of TKP noted that the government-led TurkStat does not consider them unemployed since they do not seek a job, as this situation reduces the unemployment rate announced by the Turkish authorities.
‘‘Yet, the broad definition of unemployment, as one of the alternative measures of unemployment, correctly evaluates this move and includes people, who give up looking for a job because they lose hope to find it, in the category of ‘‘the unemployed’’ in the calculations,’’ it is told in the statement issued by the Labour Center of TKP.
Accordingly, the calculations of the Labour Center of TKP indicate that the reason behind the rise of the broad unemployment to 26.2 percent with a 5-point increase in the recent year is the inclusion of people who are ready to work but gave up looking for a job because of being hopeless about finding employment.
‘‘The data provided show that the number of people defined within the scope of the real unemployment [the broad definition of unemployment] is likely to have exceeded 10 million during the pandemic period, corresponding to more than 30 percent,’’ the Labour Center of TKP pointed out in its statement, predicting that the real unemployment rates will reach these levels in unemployment figures to be announced for April and May.
Although it is not reflected in the official unemployment figures released by TurkStat, Turkey is suffering from a serious unemployment crisis along with a severe economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘‘As the indicators demonstrate that one out of every three working-age people is actually unemployed during the pandemic, labourers in the country lose their hope to earn a living with each passing day’’, the Labour Center of TKP concluded.