Italy's unemployment climbs to highest since 2001

13:40, June 02, 2010      

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Italy's jobless rate in April touched a record of 8.9 percent, the highest since 2001, according to a report issued Tuesday by National Statistics' Office Istat.

Italy's unemployment level thus continues to rise despite the country has entered into recovery. Compared to April of last year, it increased 1.5 percent with 307,000 more people without a job in April.

The country's total employment in April was 56.9 percent of the labor force, amounting to 22.831 million of which 29.5 percent is youth, Istat said.

This is the most alarming data: the crisis has mostly hit the young generations aged between 15 and 24, who today face tougher challenges in entering the labor market and having access to qualified training.

In April, youth unemployment touched its highest peak since 2004, when Istat started monitoring the sector.

With the outbreak of the global crisis, Italy's jobless rate began to rise last year for the first time since 1995. The peak in unemployment is thus seen by many analysts as a long-standing, lingering by-product of the global crisis, a sort of " physiological" structural reaction.

In brief, a record-high in joblessness could not necessarily mean that the economy was doing bad, but rather the opposite.

The country's largest industrial association, Confindustria, said it was soon expecting a rise in productivity and thus a fall in joblessness, noting that "the effect on employment of a major crisis always comes several months later than it does for the industry."

A positive sign proving the initial yet weak economic revival of Italy was the drop in the percentage of "inactive" labor force who lacked a job and was not looking for one.

This showed that the mood in the country was brighter and people more optimist. "With a recovery people previously discouraged by the crisis return to the job market and thus increase the size of the labor force," said Italian Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi in a statement.



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