Turkey's unemployment rate was up 1.9 percentage point in December from a year earlier, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) announced Wednesday, with the annual unemployment rate edging up to 12.7 percent, the highest level in the last seven years.
Unemployment also saw a 0.6-point increase from the previous month, its eighth consecutive rise since last August.
The number of people in the labor force totaled 30.54 million, an 888,000-person rise, in December 2016, compared with December of the previous year, thus explaining the rising unemployment despite the economy creating 221,000 jobs in the same period.
The number of people employed was 26.67 million, up 221,000 in December 2016 from a year earlier, data showed.
The labor force participation rate was another factor in the report explaining the rise in unemployment despite solid job creation.
The labor force participation rate (LFPR) was 51.6 percent, up 0.7 percentage points or 888,000.
The LFPR for men was 71.5 percent, up 0.5 percent, and the rate for women was 32.2 percent, up 1 percent over the same period in the previous year.
"Several measures were taken to stimulate economic activity. The government recently announced a subsidy that aims to encourage employers to hire additional employees. These steps might help curb the rise in unemployment as of February," said Gökçe Çelik, a chief economist at QNB Finansbank.
However, she warned that the main trend in job creation will be driven by economic growth, so unemployment might remain at elevated levels unless economic activity meaningfully picks up.
Echoing Çelik's views, Gökhan Özkan, a research expert at Işık FX, said the unemployment figures show that Turkey has to focus on industrial growth and create new ways to add value on employment while reflecting those developments in its economic growth.
"As 2016 was a tough year for the country's economy, once the [April 2016 constitutional] referendum is completed, the government will concentrate on reforms and support acceleration of the economy, all of which will solve a high level of unemployment," Özkan said.
Enver Erkan, Deputy Research Manager at KapitalFX, underscored that the average unemployment rate stood at 10.9 percent after the release of the December data. He further added that this negative trend in labor force participation might continue in the upcoming months. An improvement that can be facilitated by the public employment and employment campaign in the real economy is of great importance, yet these improvements will not be observed in the spring. In other words, according to Erkan, the March data (which will be released three months from now), may show some amelioration in Turkey's employment rate.
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