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Syrian refugees aggravate Turkey’s unemployment problem

Syrian refugees working illegally at low wages are exacerbating already severe unemployment in Turkey.
A street vendor waits for customers in Istanbul November 26, 2012. Through a decade of almost uninterrupted expansion, in which Turkey has established its economic and diplomatic clout as a Muslim democracy bridging Europe and the Middle East, the gap between the rich and poor has barely budged. Picture taken November 26, 2012. To match TURKEY-UNEMPLOYMENT/   REUTERS/Murad Sezer  (TURKEY - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT POLITICS) - RTR3AYYA
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In Turkey, when we discuss the economy it is usually about inflation, the current deficit and interest rates. Unemployment, an economic barometer that directly affects the people, is generally ignored. As not all the unemployed register with the National Employment Agency of Turkey (ISKUR), the number of unemployed is much higher than official figures show. With the influx of Syrian refugees, there have been spikes in unemployment levels in some regions of the country where many employers prefer to hire Syrians over Turkish workers, as the Syrians work without benefits and for lower wages.

According to the latest data from the Statistical Institute of Turkey, as of March, unemployment stood at 9.7%, or 2,747,000. Compared with the same period last year, this is an increase of 0.3%. This increase may seem insignificant, but it means that 251,000 more people have joined the ranks of the unemployed.

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