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Italy's jobless rate hits 13%, highest since 1977

Youth unemployment level hits 42.3% in February

01 April, 11:00
Italy's jobless rate hits 13%, highest since 1977 (ANSA) - Rome, April 1 - Unemployment in Italy rose to 13% in February, the highest level in about 37 years by some measures, national statistical agency Istat reported Tuesday, providing further evidence of the deep and lingering impact of the country's worst recession since the Second World War.

More than 3.3 million Italians were without jobs, the highest level since the agency began tracking the jobless rate on a quarterly basis in 1977. When measured on a monthly basis, February's national jobless rate was the highest since January 2004, the agency added. Put another way, Italy's employment rate was estimated at about 55.2%, a decrease of about 0.8 percentage points compared to twelve months earlier.

February's seasonally adjusted jobless rate was up from 12.9% in January.

Youth unemployment in Italy rose to 42.3% in February when measured on an annualized basis, Istat added. That was about 3.6 percentage points above the rate at the same time last year when unemployment was estimated to be above 38.5%, but down slightly from January's jobless rate for youth between ages 15 and 24.

Premier Matteo Renzi's government has said it is making unemployment a top priority, to be dealt with via measures to boost economic growth as well as labour-market reforms that are already proving controversial.

Renzi's Jobs Act aims to simplify labour regulations and reduce the current plethora of different contracts and benefits available.

Officially, Italy's recession ended late last year, but the recovery has been very weak. Italy is not alone in struggling with a staggeringly high youth unemployment rate.

The United Nations reported last week that worldwide, at least 74.5 million people under 25 are jobless, demonstrating that Italy's high rate of youth unemployment is part of a global phenomenon that the UN warns threatens an entire generation.