Almost half (46%) of women out of the labor force are out of the labor force because they are busy with housework. There are no men in this position. Unpaid housework and care work done by women in the household prevents them from participating in the working life.
TURKSTAT (Turkish Statistical Institute) Labor Force Statistics published on March 10 sheds light on the developments between January 2021 and January 2022. Accordingly, there is a slight increase in the seasonally adjusted labor force and employment participation rates, a slight decrease in the unemployment rate, but the gender gap between women and men continues. The reduction in the gender gap, which represents the number of women per hundred men, is very limited.
January 2021 was a period when the impacts of Covid-19 were strong, with workplaces severely limiting their activities and reducing employment. However, the expansion trend observed since the spring of 2021 and the absence of any restrictions in the autumn of 2021 despite the pandemic, were effective in the partial increase in economic activities and employment. Making the comparison with January 2020, when the pandemic has just started and measures were not on the agenda in Turkey, may give us more meaningful results. For this, it is useful to look at the numbers in the table below.
The number of labor force increased by 1,157 thousand persons for men and 848 thousand persons for women from January 2020 to January 2022, and accordingly, the labor force participation rate increased for both genders. But the gender gap has remained almost the same that while 48 women per 100 men were in the labor force in January 2020, this number became 49 in January 2022. While the number of men not included in the labor force decreased by 11 thousand, women increased by 247 thousand. Thus, while there were 229 women in January 2020 for every 100 men, this number increased to 232 in January 2022. According to the improvement in employment, from January 2020 to January 2022, the number of men in employment increased by 1,346 thousand, while the number of women increased by 976 thousand. For every 100 men, the number of women in employment increased from 46 to 48.
Table 1: Status of the Labor Force by Gender
|January 2020||January 2022|
|Male||Female||Gender Gap||Male||Female||Gender Gap|
|Labor Force (Thousand)||21449||10315||48||22606||11163||49|
|Labor Force Participation Rate (%)||70,0||32,9||71,1||34,4|
|Not in Labor Force (Thousand)||9192||21059||229||9181||21306||232|
|Rate of Those Who are Not in Labor Force (%)||30,0||67,1||28,9||65,6|
|Rate of Employment||61,8||27,6||63,8||29,7|
|Rate of Unemployment||11,8||16||10,3||13,6|
|Youth Unemployment Rate (15-24 years)||21,4||29,5||18,4||27,6|
|Rate of Labor Force Idle||18,3||27,8||19,7||28,8|
Source: TURKSTAT Labor Force Statistics
On the other hand, there is a decrease in the number of unemployed for both genders, yet the gender gap remained unchanged at 65 women for every 100 unemployed men. While the labor force and employment numbers of women are very low compared to men, they increase rapidly when it comes to unemployment. While there are 48 women for every 100 men in employment, there are 65 women for every 100 men among the unemployed. This shows that women are more affected by unemployment.
Unemployment is a more serious problem for the youth (15-24 age group). While the youth unemployment rate decreased by 3 percentage for men from 21.4% in January 2020 to 18.4% in January 2022, it decreased by 1.9 percentage from 29.5% to 27.6% for women. Although the number of women among the young unemployed is much higher than that of men, it decreased slightly from 83 unemployed women for every 100 unemployed men in 2020 to 80 women in 2022.
Here, it is useful to look at the developments in the rate of labor force idle in order to comprehend the real dimensions of unemployment. The labor force idle, which is the sum of the unemployed, time-related underemployment, and potential labor force, shows us the sum of those who want to work full-time but cannot. The potential labor force includes three groups: those who have no hope of finding a job, those who are able to start work but are not looking for a job, and those who are looking for a job but are not able to start work. In particular, there is a significant difference between men and women who are able to start work but are not looking for a job. For this, it can be looked at the fourth quarter of 2021 which is the closest date to January 2022 in terms of announced TURKSTAT data. There are 238 women for every 100 men who are able to start work but are not looking for a job. Women are not looking for a job, knowing how a desperate occupation it is for women to seek and find a job.
Table 2: Not being in the labor force in accordance with its reasons
|Fourth Quarter 2021|
|Not being in the labor force in accordance with its reasons (thousand)||Male||Female||Gender Gap|
|Those who have no hope of finding a job||781||864||110|
|Those who are able to start work but are not looking for a job||387||922||238|
|Those who are looking for a job but are not able to start work||51||41||80|
|Busy with housework||0||9770|
|Those in education||2301||2654||115|
Source: TURKSTAT Labor Force Statistics
Almost half (46%) of women out of the labor force are out of the labor force because they are busy with housework. There are no men in this position. Unpaid housework and care work done by women in the household prevents them from participating in the working life. The economic crisis prevents those who want to work from looking for a job by destroying their hope of finding a job. Women who are deprived of the opportunity to work in a job with social security coverage are also deprived of their right to retirement. The fact that there are 35 retired women for every 100 retired men shows that it is almost impossible for women who spend their lives working in the household to benefit from social security rights when they get old.
Gülay Toksöz, member of Association for Monitoring Gender Equality
Translator: Gülcan Ergün
Proof-reader: Müge Karahan