Confindustria says Italy's recession is over

Country 'fragile' on social issues, says employers' group

(ANSA) - Rome, December 19 - Italy's deep recession is over, the country's powerful industrial employers' confederation Confindustria said Thursday. But the country remains fragile, especially on social issues, it added. "The deep recession, the second in six years, is over," but the problems it has caused remain, the group said. Italy has seen a rise in protest movements, exhibiting anger at high taxes, falling wages, and cuts to many programs. One day earlier, Premier Enrico Letta said the seeds of Italy's recovery from its longest recession since World War II were developing. After eight consecutive quarters of negative growth, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) was flat in the July-September period with respect to the previous three months. The government forecasts that Italy is returning to positive growth in the fourth quarter of this year. Letta also said Wednesday that he was confident Italy's economy can grow 1% next year and 2% in 2015. Unemployment in Italy has reached record levels of over 12%, with more than four in 10 under-25s out of work during the recession. The downturn was made deeper by EU-mandated austerity measures adopted by the emergency technocrat government of Letta's predecessor, Mario Monti, to avert a Greek-style financial meltdown.