The Turkish Statistical Institute, a government-run agency, has finally broadened the scope of its unemployment data, admitting by implication that the official rates camouflage as much as 60% of the actual joblessness in the country.

Controversy over the credibility of the unemployment rates flared up during the COVID-19 pandemic, which came atop economic turmoil that had plagued Turkey since a currency crisis in 2018. Unemployment was visibly on the rise, but the official rates showed decreases in the number of jobless. The statistical institute has long shared limited data with the public, based on a narrow definition of unemployment, but the figures reached absurd levels when showing declines in both employment and unemployment during the pandemic. Independent economists as well as organizations such as the DISK trade union began to loudly dispute the official rates as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan boasted of reducing unemployment.

In an apparent bid to avoid further damage to its credibility, the statistical institute finally released what it called “supplementary indicators” March 10, citing efforts to comply with the statistical standards of the European Union and the UN International Labor Organization, aimed at better monitoring the labor market.

Written by Mustafa Sönmez