The jobless rate in Turkey fell to 12.2% in January and the worker participation rate rose toward 50% from a month earlier, according to official data on Wednesday presented in a new format in line with international standards.
The unemployment rate was down 0.4 percentage points from the previous month, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) said.
The jobless rate was 12.6% in December and 12.8% a year earlier before the coronavirus fallout hit Turkey.
The new official data sets included a seasonally adjusted measure of labor underutilization, which has risen four straight months to 29.1% in January, near a peak touched in May of last year during the height of Turkey’s COVID-19 lockdown.
A combined measure of time-related underemployment and unemployment rose to 19.7%, from 17.8% a month earlier, the TurkStat said.
In its adjustment, the institute released single-month data for the first time rather than a three-month period, complying with International Labour Organization (ILO) resolutions and the relevant European Union regulations.
The labor force participation rate in January was 49.9%, compared with 48.7% a month earlier, the data showed. Total employment rose by some 820,000 to 27.7 million.
The non-agricultural unemployment rate fell to 14.2% from 14.7% a month earlier and youth unemployment dropped to 24.7% from 25.4%.
Throughout 2020, unemployment was held down by a ban on layoffs that was on Tuesday extended through mid-May.
The ban was first introduced in April last year for three months to limit the impact of the pandemic on employment and the economy in general.
The Turkish Parliament in July approved a law allowing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to extend the layoff ban by at most three months each time until July 2021.
The country on Tuesday also extended cash assistance to its citizens.
Limited to takeaway service for much of last year, restaurants and cafes reopened as of this month as Turkey announced steps to ease pandemic restrictions.
The business world’s eyes are also on whether the government will be extending the scheme that provides wage support to employees of companies who have been hit by the pandemic.
Erdoğan has said the short-term work allowance would end as of the end of March. Under the allowance, the government has been paying 60% of staff salaries.
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