Turkish unemployment rate climbs to 12.3 percent

The unemployment rate in Turkey rose to 12.3 percent in November as companies laid off staff in the country’s deepest economic downturn in at least a decade.

The jobless rate climbed from 11.6 percent in October, rising for a seventh-straight month, according to data published by the Turkish Statistical Institute on Friday. It was the highest level since early 2017, when the economy was hit by a failed military coup attempt.

The number of unemployed stood at 3.98 million in November, an increase of 706,000 compared with 12 months earlier, when the rate was 10.3 percent, the institute said.

Unemployment in Turkey is climbing after a currency crisis last year, sparked by concerns about economic overheating and a political crisis with the United States. The economy contracted by a quarterly 1.1 percent in the three months to September and economists have warned of a protracted downturn.

Non-agricultural unemployment rose to 14.3 percent compared with 13.6 percent in October. The jobless rate among persons aged 15 to 24 increased to 23.6 percent from 22.3 percent.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government is seeking to reverse Turkey’s economic slump with tax cuts and help for indebted businesses and consumers ahead of municipal elections on March 31.

The lira fell by 28 percent against the dollar last year, spurring inflation to more than 20 percent, the highest level in 15 years, and bringing a surge in interest rates. The lira’s decline has also led to a slump in demand for imported goods.

Turkey’s central bank said on Thursday that it may provide additional liquidity to the financial system. Banks have become more reluctant to lend as the economy contracted and bad loans increased.   

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