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Turkey’s hunger threshold keeps extending lead over minimum wage

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Turkey’s hunger threshold for the month of May increased to TL 19,926 ($618), extending its lead over the minimum wage of TL 17,002 ($527), the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing a report released by the United Public Workers Confederation.

The labor union’s report put the poverty line for a family of four at TL 59,426 ($1,844), which means an increase of TL 1,110 compared to last month.

The hunger threshold is defined as the amount of money that a family of four living in the capital city of Ankara needs to spend for healthy and balanced nourishment, while the poverty line adds to that other expenses such as clothing, housing (rent and utilities), transportation, education and healthcare.

The report highlighted the upward trajectory in food prices. The expenditure needed for dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese went up by TL 774 compared to the same month last year, while the increase was TL 992 for fruit and TL 768 for vegetables.

The current minimum wage of 17,002 was announced in late December by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. However, this figure fell below the hunger threshold in April and is now less than one third of the poverty line.

Turkey is known for its relatively high percentage of the workforce making the minimum wage. Labor unions estimated that roughly half of workers earn a wage similar to the minimum wage.

The country also has a sizable informal sector, with many people working jobs unofficially.

Psychiatrists point out that a worsening economic crisis and unemployment have resulted in an increase in mental health problems and suicides among the Turkish population.

The use of anti-depressants has reportedly increased by 75 percent in the last decade.

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