Teens jobless as Youth Day marked amid controversy in Turkey

Teens jobless as Youth Day marked amid controversy in Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Teens jobless as Youth Day marked amid controversy in Turkey

The photo shows aready-to-wear workplace with mostly young women workers in İzmir. More women give up looking for job, says an opposition party official.

Some 12.5 million 15- to 24-year-olds in Turkey are unemployed, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed yesterday, on the eve of the May 19 youth celebrations. However, the TÜİK survey also showed that young people are happier than their elders. According to the statistics, Turkish youth constitutes 16.8 percent of the total national population.

The unemployment rate among young Turks is 18.4 percent, or 22.1 percent when the farm sector is excluded. The labor force participation rate for youth is only 39.3 percent. The figures paint a bleak picture, despite Turkey’s success story in economic growth and falling public debt in recent years, which government officials often boast about.

The number of unemployed people among the working-age population who have given up looking for a job exceeded 900,000 for the first time since December 2007, said Faik Öztrak, the vice president of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) yesterday.

“Data show that women are again opting to stay at home. The number of women engaged in domestic work has increased by 387,000 in the last year. This is the highest increase since July 2008,” Öztrak said.

The figures may herald “quickly approaching economic stagnation,” if the apparent slowdown in employment opportunities does not stem from statistical techniques, he said.

The overall unemployment rate in the January-February-March period fell 1.1 points to 10.4, compared with the same period last year, but was up from the previous period, when the figure was 10.2 percent.

Educated and unemployed

Unemployment rates are staggering at the high school and university graduate levels, and are even worse among women. The unemployment rate among male high school graduates is 18.6 percent, and jumps to 27.3 percent among women high school graduates.

Some 30 percent of youth who have benefited from higher education are unemployed. The rate of unemployment among men in this group is 24 percent, while the rate is 35.6 percent among women.

The official name of the May 19 holiday is the “Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day,” and it marks landing of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, in the northern coastal province of Samsun on May 19, 1919. That date has been celebrated as the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence in official history since 1938.

Youth happier than adults

Despite high rates of unemployment, young Turks seem very optimistic and hopeful for the future, TÜİK’s data shows.

The rate of youth saying they are happy is 69.6 percent, while the rate is 60.8 percent among adults.

More than 84 percent of the youth define their health condition as “good” or “very good,” but this plunges to 59.3 percent among adults. More than 82 percent of youth say they are hopeful for the future, while the rate is close to 74 percent among adults.

The TÜİK survey also shows that young Turks spend more time reading books than their elders do, at an average of 5 hours 18 minutes versus 2 hours 14 minutes each month. Another highlight of the survey is that about 76.5 percent of young people choose their spouses from among family circles or neighbors. The rate of cross-cousin marriage is 21.2 percent.

Meanwhile, following the government’s controversial initiative to curb military presence in celebrations marking national holidays, authorities have denied a number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and opposition politicians permission to stage such ceremonies on the anniversary of May 19. (Full report: May 19 kicks off amid controversy)

Unemployment among 15 to 24 year old youth

% 10.4.............Total unemployment
% 18.4..........Total youth unemployment

% 21.8..........High school graduate unemployment
% 18.6............Among men
% 27.3...........Among women

% 30.............High er education unemployment
% 24..............Among men
% 35.6............Among women