Italy’s unemployment hits record 12.9%

ROME—The unemployment rate in Italy has risen by 0.2 percentage points since December to reach a 35-year record high at 12.9%, the latest report by ISTAT has revealed.   

 The total number of those out of work has soared to 3.3 mln, but the figures concerning young people are particularly alarming: within the age group of 15-24 more than 42.4% are unemployed, which amounts to an unprecedented number of 690.000. Between the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008 and 2013, the number of employed persons between the age of 15 and 34 has decreased by 1.8mln, which makes this group the most severely affected.

 According to the data released by ISTAT, almost half of those without a job live in the south of Italy. A rise of 11.6% concerns the ‘discouraged’, those who gave up on looking for a job after having been unsuccessful for some time.

 “It’s a terrifying number”, tweeted prime minister Matteo Renzi in response to the report. “That’s why the Jobs Act will be our first step.” The package of measures to combat unemployment proposed by Renzi is aimed at simplifying Italy’s labour system, promising lower costs for companies and more protection for workers who lose their jobs.