The lowest unemployment rate Turkey experienced in the past decade was 7.8 percent in the third quarter of 2001. Turkey’s unemployment was down 2.5 percent in September over the ninth month of 2010, Thursday’s TurkStat Household Labor Force Survey shows. This follows a 2.2 percent year-on-year drop in August: Turkey’s unemployment rate was at 9.2 percent in August, representing a drop of 2.2 percent compared to the eighth month of 2010. Observers argued the latest indices gave hope of further recovery in job markets through the end of the year. The government’s Medium-Term Economic Program (OVP) estimates the year-end unemployment in Turkey for 2011 at 12 percent. Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan earlier this week said the year-end unemployment figures could be lower than what the government predicted in the OVP.
Turkey’s unemployment rate hit a worrisome 15 percent in 2009 when the global financial crisis hit the world economy the hardest. Last year, the government’s fight against inflation paid off, and the unemployment rate was able to be brought down as low as 10.5 percent.
More than 1.7 million people joined the pool of the employed in Turkey in the past 12 months to reach 24.75 million. Likewise, the number of unemployed decreased by 536,000 in September over the same period of the previous year and reached 2.4 million.
Stable growth in the economy is expected to help drive the country’s unemployment further down. Turkey registered the world’s fastest economic growth rate with 9.6 percent in the first three quarters over the same nine months in 2010.
Unemployment was 11.1 percent in urban areas in September, a 2.8 percent drop year-on-year, and was 4.5 percent in rural areas, a 1.8 percent drop in the same period. Unregistered employment — the share of people who have no social security benefits — was 42.8 percent, marking a 1.2 point decrease from the previous year. Looking at a sector-specific distribution of the employed, agriculture employed 26.2 percent of total workers in September 2011, industry 19 percent, construction 7.6 percent and services 47.2 percent. Employment in agriculture increased by 0.1 percentage point and construction increased by 1 percentage point while that of industry and services decreased by 0.5 percentage point.
More opportunity for young job-seekers
In additional critical data showing the improvement in Turkish job markets, Turkey’s youth unemployment declined to 17.3 percent in September, representing an encouraging 3.9 percent recovery when compared to the same four-week period in 2010.
The data is prominent considering more people are looking for jobs in the country every passing month. Turkey’s working age population — those over 15 years of age — increased by 1.1 million in September 2011 compared to the same period of the previous year.
In relative terms, Turkey has a higher young population in comparison to European countries. The country aspires to become an EU member, and observers argue this could help inject dynamism into the debt-ridden union’s volatile job market. Overall eurozone unemployment hit 9.8 percent in October 2011, while the union’s youth unemployment has jumped to 22 percent in the same month from 16 percent in 2007, data provided by the European Commission indicates. Elsewhere, the US, another economic powerhouse currently having problems, saw its unemployment slipped to 8.6 percent in November. This might have heralded a recovery for American job markets; but observers argue the EU will have to wait a bit longer to enjoy a similar recuperation.
Notable recovery in non-agricultural employment
According to a Bahçeşehir University Center for Economic and Social Research (BETAM) report, non-agricultural employment dropped by 3 percent to 11.3 percent in September over the same month of 2010. The report underlined that Turkey’s non-agricultural employment increased noticeably during the third quarter. BETAM attributed the recovery in employment in the months July, August and September to growth particularly in service industry employment in the given period. One encouraging detail the BETAM report drew attention to was that Turkey’s industrial employment increased for the first time in September since April this year. The report said a swift decline in non-agricultural employment during the third quarter would slow down in October. Turkey’s non-agricultural employment reached its peak at 18.2 percent in April 2009 and has been declining ever since. The highest monthly increase in the number of employed in non-agricultural sectors was experienced in April with 196,000 new jobs.
Online job sites report increased activity
Data provided by Turkey’s online employment sites acknowledge a recovery in the country’s job markets. According to an employment index report released by Kariyer.net, 39,000 people found jobs [via the website’s job search channels] in Turkey in November. The sector to experience the highest increase in new jobs was tourism with 55 percent in the 10th month. The report also indicated that the decline in employment in such key sectors as automotive, IT and food slowed down in the same month. Kariyer.net saw 11,122 new job postings in November, 33 percent higher than the same month of 2010.
Another employment site Yenibiriş.com said they expected Turkey’s food industry alone would provide 150,000 new jobs in 2012. The website recalled the food sector grew by 15 percent annually on average, adding a similar performance is expected in 2012 as well. With a total market size of $32 billion, Turkey’s food industry provides jobs to more than 977,000 people. The job applications for food companies increased by 16 percent on Yenibiriş.com this year so far.
15 December 2011 / ERGİN HAVA, İSTANBUL