Jobless benefit applications rise by 26 percent

The number of applications for unemployment benefits surged by a staggering 26 percent in the first four months of this year compared to the same period one year ago, according to official data.

The Turkish Employment Organization (iiKUR) accepted applications from 347,146 unemployed individuals in four months, an increase of 72,000 people over the 2014 figure of 275,226.

While 305,015 jobless people were deemed eligible for unemployment benefits, the applications of an additional 42,121 people were rejected in the same period. As of the end of April, the accrued balance of the unemployment fund had reached TL 85.3 billion.

Most recently, Turkey’s unemployment rate rose from 10.9 percent in December to 11.3 percent in January. The number of unemployed now stands at 3,259,000 people, the highest rate since April 2010, according to a Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) report from mid-April. The corresponding statistics for the month of February are expected to be released on Friday.

The unemployment insurance system, introduced to support those who have lost their job while they seek new employment, has been in place in Turkey for 14 years. As the system stands, employees are charged 1 percent of their monthly gross salaries while officially employed. Added to this are both a government contribution of 1 percent and a contribution by the employer of 2 percent.

If an employee loses his or her job, they are supposed to receive unemployment benefits. However, the effectiveness of this program is far from certain as merely one-tenth of the accrued balance in the fund has thus far been paid to unemployed workers since the system was first introduced.