Unemployment and economic inactivity in Turkey

Turkey’s most recent unemployment rate among people aged 15-64 is 12.2%. In light of the 6.5% unemployment rate across all OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, this is a high figure.

However, this figure is even more concerning when you consider that 43% of Turkey’s population aged 15-64 is economically inactive. This is the highest percentage in Europe.

In order to be considered unemployed, you have to be willing and able to work, and therefore economically active, but not working. In other words, Turkey’s unemployment rate doesn’t take into account its economically inactive population, many of which are unable to work but even more of which are not looking for work. The total percentage of people aged 15-64 in the country who aren’t working is actually 12.2% + 43% = 55.2%.

This figure is likely biased upwards by Turkey’s large informal economy. However, despite the presence of the informal economy, 55.2% remains a concerningly high figure which needs to be addressed.

The technology sector, which is what I’m familiar with, is already contributing to the solution, and has the potential to make an even greater contribution. In addition to direct employment by technology companies, online marketplaces which give internet users in general and smartphone owners in particular access to work by fulfilling the supply-side of these marketplaces already exist.

Drivers serving car hailing marketplaces, couriers delivering goods on urban logistics marketplaces, and sellers active on preowned clothing marketplaces are great examples of this behavior. However, each of these employment examples can be further promoted by better marketing the availability of these new jobs and updating regulations to reflect the economic reality and opportunity presented by these jobs which did not exist prior to the internet and smartphones.

In addition, other sectors can contribute with their own sector-specific solutions to increase both economic activity and employment.

We have a lot of work to do.

Also published on Medium.