(ANSA) - Rome, December 16 - Almost 30% (29.9%) of people living in Italy were suffering or risked suffering poverty and social exclusion in 2012, national statistics agency Istat said Monday. It said the level was up by 1.7 points on 2011 and was 5.1% higher than the European average. Italy has been badly hit by the global economic crisis, with unemployment climbing to record highs of over 12% and four in 10 young people under 25 out of work. The country is currently emerging from its longest recession since World War II. After two years of negative growth, Italy's gross domestic product was flat in the third quarter with respect to the April-June period. Istat said the percentage- of people suffering serious economic hardship was 14.5% last year, up from 11.2% in 2011. Another 19.4% were considered at risk of poverty, Istat said.