The national unemployment rate dropped below 10 percent in March, after remaining in the double digits for the first two months of the year, the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) said on Friday.
According to the official statistics bureau, Turkey’s unemployed was 9.9 percent for its vast labor force for the third month of the year. It was 10.2 percent in January and 10.4 percent in February. The March figure represented a greater relief compared to the same month a year earlier, when the jobless rate was 10.8 percent.
The Turkish economy has been enjoying steady, speedy growth since the last quarter of 2009, when its rapid recovery from the immediate impact of the global financial crisis began. The unemployment rate that exceeded 16 percent at the height of the crisis in February 2009 was brought down to as low as 8.8 percent in September of last year. It then, however, revisited double-digit figures because of seasonal changes in the labor market and as economic growth slowed down to more sustainable levels.
Inline with an anticipated global meltdown, Turkey’s economic growth is also expected to slow down sharply from last year’s 8.5 percent. The slowdown has already shown itself in key indices in the first quarter of this year, signaling however a soft landing -- rather than a hard landing as previously feared -- for the economy through the end of the year. Unofficial data showed Turkey among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members with the highest unemployment as of February. Its situation seems to have partially improved in March. Sovereign debt crisis-hit Spain and Greece top the list with more than 22 percent unemployment each. Youth unemployment data show that one in every two young people is without a job in these two southern European economies.
2.6 million unemployed in Turkey
The number of people who are actively seeking a job but do not have one was 2.6 million in March, down from 2.8 million a year ago. The number of employed, however, was reported by the institute at 23.8 million this March, up from nearly 23.3 million in the same month of last year. The country added more than 300,000 people to its labor force in the year since March 2011, at 26.4 million. Its 15+ population, however, was 54.4 million people. Students and those who are not actively seeking employment are not counted in the labor force. That was some 28 million people in a country of nearly 75 million in March of this year. The labor force participation rate experienced a minor decline, from 49 percent in March of last year to 48.6 percent this March.
According to TurkStat, youth unemployment was substantially down to 17.4 percent in the third month of the year, from 19.3 percent in the same month of last year. Likewise, non-agricultural unemployment, a key indicator of how the economy is actually doing, notably declined as well. It was observed at 12.1 percent in March, down from 13.4 percent a year earlier.