ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent in the three-month period from May to July, the Turkish Statistics Institute said yesterday, amid strong economic growth. Unemployment stood at 9.1 percent during the same May-July period in 2005. The May-July jobless rate, measured on a three-month moving average, was unchanged from this year’s April to June period. The figure, lower than the unemployment figure of 10.3 percent for 2005 as a whole, coincides with Turkey’s key summer tourism season, which brings in a vital $18 billion a year. In the May to July period, rural joblessness rose to 5.5 from 4.9 percent last year, while urban unemployment fell to 11.2 percent from 12.2 percent. «The young people participating in the construction, production and service sectors have compensated for the decrease in the agriculture sector,» said Raymond James chief economist Ozgur Altug. The true unemployment rate is hard to measure because of a large unregistered economy in the European Union applicant country. Turkey, with the support of the World Bank and the European Union, has attempted to cut its inflated agriculture sector, which makes up approximately a third of employment, to reflect its much smaller contribution to gross national product. Turkey’s GNP grew 8.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter as a result of strong domestic demand. The center-right government now expects growth in 2006 as a whole to be near 6 percent, compared with an official target of 5 percent.