16 April 2019 15:41

Record increase in Turkey's unemployment: 14.7%

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TSI) figures put January 2019 unemployment at 14.7%.

Photograph: DHA


The Turkish Statistical Institute (TSI) has released the January 2019 unemployment figures. TSI figures show unemployment rising by a record 3.9 points to 14.7%. The unemployment rate in Turkey peaked at 14.8% in February 2009 under the influence of the last international crisis.

The number of unemployed aged 15 and above Turkey-wide rose in January 2019 against the same period last year by 1.259 million to 4.668 million, with the unemployment rate standing at 14.7%, a rise of 3.9 points.


The non-agricultural unemployment rate was estimated to have risen by 4.1 points to 16.8%. With a 6.8 point rise taking the youth (15-24 age group) unemployment rate to 26.7%, there was a 3.9 point increase in the 15-64 age group taking the corresponding rate to 15.0%.


The number in employment fell in January 2019 compared to the same period in the previous year by 872,000 to 27.157 million, and the employment rate fell by 1.9 points to 44.5%.

In this period, the number employed in the agricultural sector fell by 345,000 and the number employed in the non-agricultural sector by 526,000. Of those in employment, 17% were in the agricultural, 19.9% in the industrial, 5.4% in the construction and 57.7% in the service sector. On a like-for-like basis, with the numbers employed in the agricultural sector falling by 0.7 points and in construction falling by 1.6 points as against the previous year, the service sector increased its share by 2.3 points. No change was registered in the industrial sector.


With the workforce standing at 31.825 million in January 2019, representing an annual like-for-like increase of 387,000, the workforce participation rate rose by 0.1 points to stand at 52.2%. On a comparative basis over the same period, the workforce participation rate among men rose by 0.2 points to 71.1%, while that among women rose by 0.4 points to 33.6%.


The proportion of workers unconnected to any social security institution rose by 0.6 points in January 2019 to clock in at 33.1%. In the non-agricultural sector, the proportion of unrecorded workers rose by 0.7 points on a like-for-like basis against the same period in the previous year to 22.5%.

Seasonally adjusted employment is estimated to have fallen by 223,000 as against the previous period to 28.14 million. The employment rate fell by 0.4 points to 45.9%.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment increased by 170,000 to 4.295 million, corresponding to a 0.6 point increase in the unemployment rate to 13.3%.

The seasonally adjusted workforce participation rate fell by 0.2 points to stand at 52.9%. The number employed by economic activity fell by 22,000 in the agricultural, 82,000 in the industrial, 44,000 in the construction and 76,000 in the service sector.

Assessing the figures that were released, economists stressed that the crisis is getting ever deeper.


In an assessment he made on his social media account, Associate Professor Dr. Ümit Akçay said, “These figures are not normal, friends. I have said this before, some have got very angry, but I have to repeat: We are passing through a scarcely precedented crisis and the crisis is getting ever deeper.”

For his part, economist-author Mustafa Sönmez, stressing that the number of unemployed had increased by 400,000 in one month, pointed out that the non-agricultural employment rate had reached 2009 crisis levels.



The TSI has released the employment figures for January 2019. Unemployment, sharply on the increase since last October, has reached a record level in January 2019. Unemployment, increasing by 3.9 points against the same period last year, has reached 14.7%. As such, it has virtually reached the level at the time in 2009 when the effects of the global crisis were at their strongest. As to youth unemployment, this has reached 26.7%.

Generally, what drives unemployment rates is the inability to create new jobs and it is a major threat to new entrants into the labour force. However, according to the figures that the TSI has released, not only is there an inability to create new jobs in Turkey, but those in employment are beginning to lose their jobs. Thus, 872,000 workers lost their jobs between January 2018 and January 2019. These figures show us that unemployment may rise far more rapidly under conditions in which capital shies away from fresh investment or even, as in the example of Honda, withdraws its existing investments in the upcoming period in which the economic crisis deepens.

The government has announced countless packages branded as “combatting unemployment” since 2008. Under these packages, there was a massive transfer of funds from the general budget and the Unemployment Insurance Fund to capital in return for employing workers. However, from today’s perspective, there has been no palpable return in terms of increasing employment from these funds that were transferred from workers’ pockets to capital. That is, the AKP government’s employment policies are in ruins. There is now no remaining means that it can call on to solve the unemployment problem, either. The programme named the “reform package” announced by Minister Albayrak that involves nothing apart from placing the burden of the crisis on working people’s shoulders has been deemed unrealistic both in the world and in Turkey. Hence, all these developments show that the current rulers are doggedly following a path that is further deepening the crisis rather than leading the country out of crisis. It is inevitable that unemployment will race towards new records as the crisis deepens.


(Translated by Tim Drayton)