Jobless Turks have little hope as economic downturn persists

Turks who lost their jobs in the aftermath of last year’s currency crisis have little hope that they can find new work quickly, according to a report by Reuters.

Murat Abi moved to Istanbul from eastern Turkey four years ago and found work in the country’s construction industry. He’s now without a job for nine months and is sleeping at the offices of a labour union because he can’t pay his rent, Reuters journalists Ezgi Erkoyun and Ali Küçükgöçmen said.

Abi’s predicament is now commonplace in Turkey. Unemployment stands at more than 14 percent, just behind rates in Spain and Greece. Turks are losing their jobs after the lira slumped against major currencies, causing firms to slash costs or ask the courts to protect them from bankruptcy.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave an upbeat assessment of Turkey’s economic outlook in a speech on Tuesday. Data now showed an upward trend, he said.

“We are making effort to find the balance in economy, remove volatility in exchange rates and increase jobs. Indicators as of June show positive developments,” Erdoğan told lawmakers of his governing party at the parliament in Ankara, Reuters said.

Turkey’s economy entered a recession in the second half of last year but emerged in the first three months of 2019 with quarter-on-quarter growth of 1.3 percent. But economists, ratings agencies and international institutions are warning that it may be some time before Turkey, once known for its stellar, credit-fuelled economic success story, fully emerges from the downturn.

While the government predicts economic growth of 3.5 percent for 2020, the OECD says the economy is likely to expand at less than half that pace.

Seyfettin Gursel, an unemployment expert at Istanbul’s Bahçeşehir University, expects people to remain jobless for an extended period of time, or up to about 18 months, Reuters reported. That is longer than during the global financial crisis of 2008.

 “Because previous crises were left behind quickly, the duration of unemployment was not too long. But now people will be unemployed for a very long time,” Gursel said.
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