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Turkish unemployment down at end of 2021

Turkey is in the midst of an economic crisis, marked by historically high inflation. The government has misled the public with its unemployment figures in the past.
Turkey protest

Turkey’s labor force participation rate increased slightly at the end of 2021.

The labor force participation rate was 52.9% in December 2021. This constituted a 0.3 percentage-point increase the from previous month, the state-run Turkish Statistical Institute said in a release today. 

The labor force participation rate refers to the percentage of the population that is employed or looking for work. 

The end of year rate is higher than it was in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate that year was 49.3%, according to statistics from the World Bank. 

Turkey’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 11.2% in December, the institute said. The unemployment rate in 2020 was 13.92%, according to the World Bank. 

Turkey’s employment rate was 47$ in December, which was a 0.3 percentage point increase, according to the institute. 

Why it matters: Turkey’s official unemployment figures do not give an accurate picture of the jobs situation in the country, however. The Turkish Statistical Institute's definition of unemployment, like figures often used in the United States and elsewhere, excludes people who gave up looking for a job. Their rate hides as much as 60% of the actual unemployment rate, Mustafa Sonmez reported for Al-Monitor in March of 2021.

Relatedly, though Turkey’s unemployment rate fell slightly in December, the number of unemployed people in Turkey actually increased by 2,000, per the institute. This reflects people leaving the workforce.

Turkey’s employment rate is also lower than some of its neighbors. The European Union’s employment rate was 72% in 2020. 

What's next: Turkey is dealing with a major economic crisis at present. Inflation is nearing 50% and hit a two-decade high last month. The value of the Turkish lira has fallen dramatically in recent months, leading to economic hardship for people who live off wages and benefits. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's business allies are starting to grow weary of the situation, which could further erode support for the president. Erdogan maintains an unorthodox economic position that lower interest rates lead to lower inflation. 

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