Mar 20, 2014 - 0 Comments - Data -

Youth Unemployment Rates

As we have discussed in our entry on the Unemployment Rate in Turkey, this is one of the most important indicators of the health of an economy. The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed with the total labor force. Statistically speaking, for someone to be considered unemployed that person needs to be actively searching for jobs and therefore must be a part of the labor force. In other words, if a person is not working, he or she is not automatically considered unemployed.

Different sections in a society experience unemployment in different ways. For instance, in Turkey labor force participation and unemployment rates for women and men differ significantly. Compared to men, women experience lower labor force participation rates and higher unemployment rates. This can be interpreted as a sign of  the persistence of a gender-biased and discriminatory structure in the labor market.

If we were to approach our topic from a perspective that aims to maximise the productive capacity of Turkey to its fullest possible level, we would argue that the high youth unemployment rates as a indicator that Turkey is producing below full capacity levels of output. Nevertheless, the state of the youth in the labor market is important for a number of other reasons than this fairly economistic concern. First of all, higher unemployment levels among the youth is a sign that these new entrants to the labor market are having relatively more difficult time in finding jobs compared to older workers. High unemployment rates and intensified competition among many candidates for few positions does not only put downward pressure on wages but also makes unpaid or underpaid precarious employment forms (such as internships) more prevalent in this end of the labor market. This condition also has adverse effects on those who are actually employed.  Another important dimension of the youth unemployment rate is the fact that such unemployed or precariously employed youth remain economically dependent to their families.

In our first table, the youth is defined as those who are aged between 15 and 24. We presented female and male youth unemployment rates separately and compared these with the overall unemployment rate.  Most striking here is that the fact that the youth unemployment rate is nearly twice that of overall unemployment rate. In 2009, during the global economic crisis, the combined youth unemployment rate was 25.3% (not included in the graph). In the first three quarters of 2013 (latest data available at the time of writing this entry) this rate has dropped down to 18.6%. To compare, the overall unemployment rate in 2009 was 14%. In the first three quarters of 2013, this rate has dropped down to  9.2%.

Table 1

When we look at numbers rather than rates, in 2012, the total number of unemployed in the country was 2 million 516 thousand people.  Of this number, 474 thousand were male youth and 301 thousand were female youth. In the table below, the overall number of unemployed is composed of three layers: Young Men, Young Women and the Unemployed in Other Age Groups.

Table 2

In trying to make sense of the conditions of labor market, in addition to the unemployment rates and actual numbers of unemployed, it is important to track the labor force participation rates. In our final table below, we observe that while labor force participation rate among young men is closer to the national average (around 50%), the same rate among young women is very low and nearly half of the national average. This suggests that female youth continues to have difficulties in entering the labor market.

Table 3


Unemployment dataset is downloaded from the website of Turkish Statistical Institute, “Labour Force Statistics” link.

Statistical Table: ”Labour Force Status of “15-24 Age Group” by Years and Sex”

Image: Nalan Yırtmaç

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