Turkey unemployment highest in half decade

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Istanbul (AFP): Turkey’s unemployment rate in October was the highest since 2010, the statistical authorities said Monday, the latest in a slew of bleak indicators for the economy.

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) said the unemployment rate jumped to 11.8 percent in October, a 0.4-point increase from September and a 1.3-point leap from its level a year earlier.

These are the highest figures since 2010 when the unemployment rate was estimated at 11.9 percent, according to TurkStat.

Youth unemployment also rose as 500,000 more people aged 15 and above were without a job last year compared to the previous period, reaching more than three million.

The data is the latest blow to the Turkish economy with the lira put under strain by a string of terror attacks, doubts about the sustainability of growth and worries about political instability.

The Turkish economy shrank by 1.8 percent in the third quarter of 2015 as consumer spending and exports plunged.

Turkey’s robust economic performance — which saw growth of 9 percent in 2010 and 2011 — has been a pillar of Erdogan’s popular support over the years.

Erdogan has claimed the dramatic depreciation of the lira is a conspiracy to “bring Turkey to its knees” and even equated it to a “terrorist attack”.

He did not say who was to blame for the purported conspiracy, or if he was referring to foreign powers or private currency speculators.

Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s both downgraded the country’s credit rating to junk status in 2016 and warned the security situation was likely to weigh on the economy and cause a “general worsening of the investment climate”.

After heavy losses days pushed it close to the 4.0 ceiling against the dollar less than a week ago, the lira has clawed back some ground against the greenback to trade at near 3.8 lira to the dollar.

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