Unemployment is reaching 10 million, 30%, in Turkey, says economist Mustafa Sönmez

Criticizing the government decision to hand over to business owners around $5.00 a day per worker under a newly introduced concept of "unpaid leave", the economist Sönmez said the amount the workers would receive while on this “unpaid leave” was less than $200.00 a month which is much lower than the unemployment benefit for a worker.

Unemployment is reaching 10 million, 30%, in Turkey, says economist Mustafa Sönmez

Mustafa Sönmez is an economist-columnist in Turkey. He says the coronavirus caught Turkey when its immune system had already been compromised.

In an article that appeared in Al-Monitor on April 9, 2020, the economist highlighted the unemployment figures in Turkey and cautioned about the results this unsustainable jobless figure may bring.

The article emphasizes that while the current unemployment rate in Turkey is at 14% and at 4.5 million people, the measures brought on by the pandemic may shoot this level up by a 100 or 120 percent that will bring the unemployed numbers close to 10 million people.

Sönmez explains the three reasons behind this surge in unemployment:
• The work places and plants where the people used to work in close proximity have been shut down. In the first phase, more than 150,000 cafes and bars were closed. Then 120,000 hair salons and barbers and restaurants were shut down. If it is assumed that there were 5 workers per each of these shops, the figure reaches 1.5 million who lost their jobs.
• Age limits on who could go out were imposed. If there are 850,000 workers over the age of 65 and 550,000 under the age of 17, this limit produced another 1.5 million unemployed.
• The economy saw a tremendous drop in the demand after the pandemic. The slow down or closing of production due to this fall in demand also created an army of the unemployed. More than 70,000 people applied for the short-term unemployment benefits. The Ministry of Labor announced that more than a million people were employed in these businesses.

Criticizing the government decision to hand over to business owners around $5.00 a day per worker under a newly introduced concept of “unpaid leave”, the economist Sönmez said the amount the workers would receive while on this “unpaid leave” was less than $200.00 a month which is much lower than the unemployment benefit for a worker.

Sönmez expects an additional 2 million people to lose their jobs that will push the jobless rate to 30% in Turkey.

He expressed concern by questioning the trend, “How long the spike in unemployment could last is unclear, but only a small section of the affected masses has received a helping hand from the state thus far. Even if 2 million people ultimately benefit from payments from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, Ankara has yet to consider steps to help the 8 million who remain potentially uncovered.”


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