TurkStat’s labor force data ‘out of touch with reality,’ union report says

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An assessment report by the Research Center of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK-AR) states that labor force statistics recently released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) are “out of touch with reality,” local media reported.

According to the figures released on Tuesday by TurkStat, responsible for producing official statistics on Turkey, the number of unemployed decreased by 823,000 to 3.3 million while the number of employed increased by 602,000 to 28.5 million between May and June 2021.

Questioning the credibility of the latest labor force statistics released by the institute, DİSK-AR noted in its assessment that they were “out of touch with reality” and “in need of further explanation.”

“Rather than the creation of new jobs, it can be said that the real reason for the increase in the employment rate is the fact that some of the people who were benefiting from pandemic-related allowances [short-time work allowance, cash wage support] returned to their jobs or started working full-time in June,” DİSK-AR added.

The unions further indicated that the decrease in the number of unemployed in Turkey was “controversial” because of the increase in the numbers of both registered unemployed and applications for unemployment benefits.

“The 222,000-person decrease in the workforce in June 2021, when the economy was fully opened, seems contrary to the way things normally are,” DİSK-AR emphasized.

In 2019 opposition parties submitted parliamentary questions to then-Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, over claims that TurkStat tweaked inflation data for political reasons, claims dismissed as groundless by the head of the institute.

Erdoğan has replaced the head of the TurkStat four times since April 2019, paving the way for the claims that he wasn’t pleased with the TurkStat figures when they were higher than his expectations.

Over the past several years, Turkey has been suffering from backsliding in its economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing a one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

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