The rate of unemployment was among important data released this week and it once again raised questions. The rate continued its upward trend and yet again entered double digits. I had previously touched upon this trend not coming as a surprise due to the strong outlook for new entrants to the workforce, and the need to delve into the relevant sub factors while looking for solutions.
In this sense, regional dynamics have special significance when it comes to our eastern region. In a week where developments about the resolution process have made the news, it makes sense to end the week by creating a link between these two topics.
WORKFORCE ENTRY IN UPWARD LEAP IN EAST
When statistics are analyzed, it can be seen that the drop in unemployment rates across the country during the 2010-2012 period was also experienced in the region. At the same time it should be mentioned that the rate remained higher than the national average.
When the average rate of unemployment in Turkey was 9.7 percent in 2013, some eastern provinces had a higher rate of unemployment. The unemployment rate stood around 14 percent in these sub regions during 2013. The reason for this rise compared to the previous year is that despite rising employment figures the reality of the fast growth of new entrants to the workforce exists.
The rate of new entrants to the workforce in the region is higher than the national trend… while the national average in 2013 was 3.4 percent, it was 16.2 percent in Southeast Anatolia.
It was extremely difficult for the rate of employment to match this and, as a result, the number of unemployed people in the Southeast grew by 36 percent. It will be easier to understand if I say that the rise in the nationwide average was 9.1 percent. On the other hand, we should remember that there is also the issue of refugees that is not fully reflected in official numbers.
INVESTMENT IS A BASIC REQUISITE
This data also indicates the level of impact the region has on unemployment in Turkey. This is because one out of every three people unemployed in 2013 is from the region…
When we look at the subset categorized as Level 2, TRC2 areas, which include Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa in particular, and TRC3 areas, which include Mardin, Batman, Şırnak and Siirt, have a serious impact on the rise in unemployment.
TRC3 is the sub region with the highest rate of unemployment, which stands at 21.1 percent, followed by TRC2 with 17.5 percent.
This picture that has emerged as a result of not generating enough employment in the region is a factor in the increase of the rate of unemployment in Turkey.
By starting from here and ensuring a reduction in the rate of unemployment in the region and thereby also dragging down the national rate, we will also realize that the reconciliation process is the most critical factor in this process. Because it is a prerequisite that investment comes to the region in order for employment to reach required levels. Security, on the other hand, is a prerequisite for investment.
MONEY LIKES CALM
The incentives given for the 6th region in recent years are known. Some activity is being witnessed as to the making use of these incentives -- that have attractive elements included in them -- and are moving in sync with the reconciliation process. A significant increase was seen during 2012 and 2013 in particular in investments made by making use of these incentives. Foreign interest also grew markedly despite sharing the smallest part in the pie.
These developments, while heartening, are not enough. Despite these preferential incentives the potential is not being fully exploited. An indicator of this is that while improvements have been made as a result of the hope created by the reconciliation process, the 6th region remains amongst the regions where the least amount of incentive documents have been issued.
This means that potential investors are not willing to take a risk despite attractive investment conditions and despite the existence of an opportunity to flourish in the region by the creation of a support system in the region for various sectors, ranging from agriculture to industry, and tourism to finance. This is because the region requires a facility for complete security, something that was also proven during the events that occurred in recent times.
Investments will not reach ideal levels unless a climate of calm is created. This is because money likes calm and security, not complications and fear.
A PUBLIC WITH ASPIRATIONS WILL BE THE GUARDIANS OF PEACE
Let us return to demographic factors and add that the population census also shows very clearly that the East is in urgent need of employment.
The provinces with the biggest population in the age range of 0-17 are in this region of ours. It does not take an astrologer to see the workforce trend in the near future in many of our eastern provinces like Şırnak, Şanlıurfa and Ağrı, where children make up 50 percent of the population.
In addition to this, based on projections, while Turkey’s population is expected to grow by 9.8 percent annually on average, the rate of growth in provinces in the region is expected to be higher.
Şanlıurfa is expected to take top spot in Turkey in terms of population growth with an annual rise of 25.8 per thousand. Şırnak and Batman take their place in the top 10 of this list with increases of more than 20 per thousand, and Diyarbakır comes in 11th place with an expected population growth rate of 13.3 per thousand.
The message that emerges is clear even with the possibility of variations in these forecasts: The population will grow in the region and as a result of that the number of entrants to the workforce will also increase. The need for employment will become even more acute.
In this context, creating job opportunities and the opportunity to lead proper lives, particularly for the youth, will exceed just meeting a need, and be a vital element in ensuring security in the medium and long term.
This is a very critical point… These two main factors that nourish each other will shape the region’s future. While peace and calm bring vitality to the economy; the public, with their aspirations, will be the guardians of peace and calm.
THE ESSENTIAL INCENTIVE: THE RECONCILIATION PROCESS
Didn’t our people react in accordance to this during recent events? Surveys conducted show that the majority of the public in the region were opposed to these events. In other words, it shows that they don’t want chaos any longer.
The realm in the East wants calm now. It wants welfare, jobs and a future. It also knows very well that the sole road leading there is through a climate of security.
It would be really nice if this reality that the people of the region are crying out for would also be grasped and digested by the actors on the side who claim to speak on their behalf.
Because more than any other incentive, the reconciliation process is the “essential incentive” that the East needs for development.