Turkish unemployment falls, but do figures tell the truth?

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey’s unemployment rate was projected at 9.7 percent in the three-month period from August to October, the country’s Statistics Institute said yesterday. The survey, based on interviews with 88,207 people, estimated the number of jobless at 2.42 million. The country’s unemployment rate was 10.3 percent in 2004, with an estimated 2.5 million jobless. To determine the figures, the institute surveys a number of households in different regions on the basis of international standards, and uses the results to make a nationwide projection. The institute adopted a new survey method this year, under which the figures are calculated monthly on the basis of three-month periods, as compared to the quarterly projections employed earlier. The institute’s projection is the only available unemployment data in Turkey, but observers warn that the figures do not reflect the real picture when it comes to undeclared or hidden unemployment in which educated, qualified people are often engaged in menial, unqualified jobs. Unemployment and a large informal sector are areas the International Monetary Fund wants Turkey to address in order to consolidate gains from its spectacular economic recovery from a severe recession, aided by multibillion-dollar IMF loans. Turkey’s economic growth rate is expected to exceed 5 percent this year.