Italian wage rises, consumer confidence hit new lows
Fall in real wages biggest since 199528 January, 16:39
The national statistics agency added that real wages fell by 1.5% last year, the biggest drop since 1995.
This was because the average rise in hourly wages last year was half the rate of inflation - 3%. This means Italians' real wages were cut because prices rose at a rate that outstripped salary increases.
Istat added that its consumer-confidence index dropped to 84.6 points this month from 85.7 in December, taking it to the lowest level since the index's launch in January 1996.
Monday's data come after a series of previous reports highlighting how hard the recession is hitting Italy. Retail sales fell for the eighth consecutive month in November, dropping 3.1% on the same month in 2011, and industrial output plummeted 7.6%.
Italy's unemployment level reached a record high of 11.1% in October and stayed at the same level in November. The Bank of Italy has forecast the jobless rate will rise to 12%.
But there was some good news on Monday, when the powerful Italian industrial employers' Confindustria said the country's recession may finally be reaching an end. A Confindustria report said that the Italian economy "is touching the bottom of a hard recession, the second in five years. "The conditions for the economy to bounce back have been reached". Confindustria also found that lost consumer confidence had compressed domestic consumption of durable goods more than would be justified by drops in real disposable income.