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Is it 12% or 52%? Turks disagree on jobless rate

Turkey’s unemployment problem is unlikely to scale down to pre-pandemic levels, bound to remain the main pressure factor on the country’s economy and politics.
Turkish workers of former state-owned tobacco and alcohol monopoly TEKEL shout slogans in protest against layoffs and the government�s labor policy on the 65th day of their strike in Ankara on February 18, 2010. Workers are demonstrating for the rights of some 10,000 workers who were made redundant by the privatization of the state tobacco monopoly TEKEL in 2008. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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The coronavirus pandemic has fueled unemployment across the world and Turkey, whose economy was already ailing, is not an exception. But when it comes to measurement, the figures vary, though none of them is wrong per se, depending on the technical definitions of unemployment. According to official figures released last week, Turkey’s unemployment rate improved slightly to 12.8% in April despite the raging pandemic, while alternative calculations show that more than 50% were left out of work.

The calculation method of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) is based on the “narrow” definition of unemployment, which is the most widely used across the world. Accordingly, unemployment surveys make a distinction between those who describe themselves as jobless, depending on whether they have actively looked for a job. Those who have not looked for a job in the past four weeks are not considered part of the labor force and thus not counted as jobless.

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