Unemployment and inflation hammer Turkish workers
Over 8 million Turkish people are now unemployed, according to the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK).
The Turkish Institute for Statistics (TURKSTAT) released the results of its annual household survey conducted last year. The results put unemployment adjusted for seasonal work at 11.2%.
Youth Unemployment is at 22.3% and young women are nearly a third out of work.
DISK used TURKSTATs research to estimate that around 8.45 million people are now without work in Turkey.
The crisis for working people is compounded by a fall in the continued value of the Turkish Lira.
Turkey is going through a year of record inflation, which has increased by 72.6% since 2020. In January, inflation jumped 36.08% since December last year. It is now at a 19-year high.
Turkish workers and families must now contend with unemployment and high prices. Cues can be seen in most major cities for bread and other essentials. DISK says that food inflation has outrun the average hitting working people the hardest:
While the inflation in 2021 was announced as 36.08 percent, the inflation in food, which constitutes a weighty part of the expenditures of the workers, was determined at much higher rates. According to TURKSTAT, food inflation, which was 4.9% in 2005, rose to 43.8% in 2021.
High prices have effectively been the official policy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Long before the pandemic, Erdogan pursued low interest rates and cheap borrowing to help business. Much of Turkey’s recent economic successes rely on an expanding manufacturing sector.
Erdogan tried a similar policy in the early 2000s, while Prime Minister. This paid off and helped transform Turkey into an economic ‘success story’. But this time around any growth has not trickled down to workers, who have been triple hit by Erdogan’s mismanagement, inflation caused by global supply bottlenecks, and rising gas prices.
The government has intervened to help businesses make payments. But DISK claim workers have seen little help,
The government is protecting the rich, the capital and the banks, instead of protecting the people struggling for their livelihood in these severe economic conditions.
We, as those who produce all the values of this country, are not obliged to pay this bill. As we have repeatedly stated, the resources of this country are sufficient to keep the people of this country alive. As long as the resources of this country are used for social policies, not to enrich the rich.
Despite runaway prices, Erdogan has doubled down on his policy. He has sacked three finance ministers in two years for defying his controversial economics. Cutting interest rates in response to inflation defies the advice of almost all economists worldwide. The US is currently pursuing the opposite policy as prices rise.
Erdogan’s lead in opinion polls continues to narrow as it has throughout 2021. A national election will take place in 2023 at the latest.
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Image credit: Press Service of the President of the Russian Federation – Creative Commons