Turkey unemployment rate falls as layoffs barred during COVID-19

Turkey’s unemployment rate fell in the February to April period after the government banned companies from laying off workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The jobless rate, unadjusted for seasonal factors, dropped to 13.2 percent from 13.6 percent in the three months to March, the Turkish Statistical Institute said on Wednesday. Unemployment was 14.1 percent in the same period of last year.

Turkey has introduced a swathe of economic measures to help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, including preventing companies from laying off workers until July. Unpaid leave is allowed instead. It is likely to extend that period until October.

But the labour market is showing significant signs of stress, according to underlying data.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 13 percent from 12.7 percent in the three months to March. Non-agricultural unemployment, when seasonally adjusted, rose to 15.1 percent from 14.6 percent.

The number of people of working age employed in the economy has fallen to 42 percent from 45 percent since December. The total number of employed has declined by 1.6 million in the period, according to ING Bank.

Some 694,000 people lost their jobs in the services industry in March alone, while the figure was 202,000 in construction and 85,000 in industry.