Italy’s south set to grow after seven lean years

The economy of Italy's struggling south is set to return to growth in 2015 for the first time since the crisis kicked off seven years ago, a new report published on Tuesday argues.

Italy's south set to grow after seven lean years
Southern Italy's GDP is set to grow for the first time in seven years in 2015. Photo: Maryn Ve/Flickr

The authors of the report by the Association for Industrial Development in Southern Italy (Svimez) state that the GDP of southern Italy should grow by 0.1 percent this year.

This should come as welcome news for the recession-hit economy of the region, where GDP has shrunk every year since 2007, and where the contraction was 1.4 percent last year.

In its new report, Svimez is predicting something of a national turnaround, saying Italy's GDP will grow by 0.8 percent in 2015, a figure in line with that quoted by the Italian government.

The private not-for-profit association also predicts the GDP of Italy's richer centre–north will expand by 0.9 percent this year.

In more positive news, the report forecasts further growth for 2016 – projecting GDP growth of 1.3 percent for Italy overall and an 0.7 percent uptick for Italy's south.

Svimez states Italy's return to growth is consumer-led and is having a positive impact on employment figures which are set to improve by 0.8 percent in the south and 0.9 percent in the centre–north this year.

While news of a recovery, no matter how timid, is a positive sign for the south, Svimez has once again warned of the growing economic divide between Italy's north and south just months after the organization declared that the region risked “permanent underdevelopment” if things did not change.

The new report highlights the level of unemployment of young women in southern Italy, where only one in five (20.2 percent) of 15-34 year old women are in work.

The organization said the figure was “truly unparalleled” and highlighted that the rate of female unemployment in Italy's south was 20 percent higher than the average in centre–north of Italy and some 30 percent lower than the EU average.

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