Youth unemployment, which will be a key focus for European leaders at a summit in Brussels later this month, rose to 40.5 percent with an estimated
656,000 young Italians looking for a job.
"We have to deal with the social crisis, which is expressed particularly in spreading youth unemployment, and place it at the centre of political action," President Giorgio Napolitano said in a statement as the figures came out.
"Public resources should be aimed concretely at launching a new phase of development and social cohesion," he said.
The overall rate was 0.1 percentage points higher than in March and 1.5 points more than April 2012. The number of job seekers rose to 3.83 million in April -- 23,000 or 7.0
percent more than in March.
Business daily Il Sole 24 Ore said the data showed there was an "employment emergency" in the country.
It also pointed to regional differences in the figures, with the unemployment rate in less developed southern Italy reaching 20.1 percent.
The figures came a day after France, the eurozone's second largest economy, said the number of job seekers had risen to a record 3.26 million.