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Jobs crisis driving more Italians abroad

Country 'profoundly weakened' by economic crisis, says report

06 December, 18:15
Jobs crisis driving more Italians abroad (By Sandra Cordon) (ANSA) - Rome, December 6 - The number of Italians who have moved abroad to seek work beyond their recession-bound country jumped by 28.8% last year compared with 2011, according to the annual report of the Censis research agency released Friday. In a wide-ranging report on employment, income, and household finances, the Censis research showed that over the past decade, the number of people leaving Italy more than doubled, reaching 106,000 from 50,000.

But the increase was particularly dramatic between 2011 and 2012, according to Censis, which surveyed 1,200 households.

That coincides with a period of serious crisis in Italy, as the worst recession in 20 years caught the nation in an economic vise of rising unemployment, rising costs and diminishing expectations and optimism among many.

Unemployment has been steadily rising to a record 12.5% in recent months, while joblessness among people under age 35 has skyrocketed to more than 40%.

The pessimism in the survey reflected those statistics and Censis said it found that "much of the country" is in a situation of "fragility" because of difficult economic circumstances. Said Censis: "The year 2013 ended with the sense of a pervasive uncertainty about the future".

Censis also reported that about 72% of people who have left Italy said they moved for employment, and more than one million households said that at least one family member is living abroad. It also found that 44% of the young people living outside Italy have no plans to return to their home country to live while almost 25% are unsure what they will do.

Censis probed reasons why people had decided to move from Italy and almost 55% said they were frustrated by what they saw as an employment system based on personal relationships rather than merit.

A further 44% said they were troubled by what they saw as cronyism while others cited poor quality of services and a waste of public money as factors they dislike about Italy.

Meanwhile, fully one in four households said they were struggling to pay their bills and taxes, while fully 70% admitted they would have trouble coping with a unexpected and significant expense.

Economic uncertainty is causing "worry and unease" in many families, the report found, adding that 69% said their spending power has fallen this year.

It added that falling consumer spending was a symptom of a country that was "under stress", "lost", and "profoundly weakened" by the economic crisis that started five years ago.

Contributing to the stress felt by many Italians, fully six million people are believed to be living with job insecurity, including unstable contracts and under-employment, said Censis.

It added that another 4.3 million people actively searching for work cannot find employment, and about 1.6 million have given up the hunt.

Another 14% of Italian workers are afraid of losing their job, about 14.3% fear a reduction in their pay, and about 24.4% fear that conditions at work will worsen.

As a result, Italians have been tightening their belts with more people saying they are actively seeking ways to cut spending. Censis found that 76% of people surveyed said they watched for bargains and promotions at the supermarket, while 53% said they were reducing their gas consumption by travelling less by car and scooters.

Another 68% said they had reduced spending on leisure activities including going to the movies and 45% have cut back on eating out in restaurants "The crisis has brought a new sobriety," to individuals' budgets, said the report.

Its findings came at the same time the Bank of Italy announced that Italy's tax burden climbed to 44% of gross domestic product in 2012, compared to 42.5% in 2011.

At that level, Italy had the fourth-highest tax burden in the eurozone, alongside Finland, and the sixth-highest in the European Union as a whole.

The high tax level is widely seen as a factor in the country's poor economic performance over the last decade.