More than 510,000 people were fired from their jobs after Turkey lifted the ban on layoffs, which was imposed in early 2020 as part of the measures to tackle unemployment during the pandemic.
According to the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR) data, some 518,000 people filed applications to receive unemployment pays in the past three months. The agency's numbers directly contradict data shared by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), which said that unemployment stood at just 12.1 percent in August.
The İŞKUR data showed a massive wave of unemployment since the end of June. In September alone, unemployment benefits were distributed to 359,876 people. The total amount paid out as unemployment payments increased from 260,868,000 in June to 518,414,000 in September.
The swelling of unemployment in the past three months is also significant to the data collected over the course of the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) tenure in Turkey. In total, from 2002 to the end of June 2021, 14.8 million people applied for unemployment benefits. As of September 2021, 15.3 million people have applied - in other words, the past three months have seen an increase of over half a million people or over 3.5%. Official government data fails to reflect this massive increase.
This surge in unemployment also indicates a worrying trend for the Turkish state unemployment fund. As a result of this rapid increase in spending, the balance sheets of the Unemployment Insurance Fund are now massively skewed. In September alone, the fund had an income of 3.5 billion Turkish Lira, but an outflow of 4.7 billion Turkish Lira. In 2019, the total value of the fund was 131.5 billion TL. That decreased to 103.2 billion TL in 2020, and 87.1 billion TL by September 2021. With the current rate of unemployment, the fund could continue to empty at a concerning rate.