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Italian unemployment down but short-term contracts on the rise

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Italian unemployment down but short-term contracts on the rise
Young Italians protesting against high unemployment. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
12:37 CET+01:00
Italy has reported higher levels of employment, but statistics reveal an increase in precarious contracts and poorly-paid work.

Italy's unemployment rate has dropped from 11.2 percent in 2017 to 10.6 percent last year, according to new figures released by Italian statistics agency Istat today.

The number of people in employment rose for the fifth consecutive year in 2018, with 192,000 more people in work compared to 2017.

The jobless rate for under-25s appeared to be down too, falling 2.6 percentage points to 32.2 percent.

The number only counted those who are “active” on the labour market, however.

Italy has the highest number of economically inactive young people in Europe, with almost 30 percent of young Italians classed as "NEETs" - not in employment, education or training - by the Eurostat agency.

Italy's youth unemployment rate stands at around 31 percent - the third highest in the EU after Greece and Spain. Thousands of young Italians leave the country each year in search of work abroad.

READ ALSO: Voting with their feet: Young Italians are leaving Italy in huge numbers

The overall rise in employment in Italy however seems to come at a cost.

An increasing number of workers are stuck on insecure short-term contracts with limited employment rights, and one in five private sector workers are paid less than nine euros an hour.

The report stressed that the rise in employment was driven by an increase of 323,000 temporary contracts, while the number of people working on steady, open-ended contracts dropped by 108,000.

The agency added that the overall number of people in employment fell by 36,000 in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter.

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Meanwhile, Italian social security and pensions agency INPS told the Senate's labour committee that 22 percent of private sector employees earn less than nine euros an hour gross, stressing that this figure doesn't include agricultural and domestic workers, who are often paid far less.

It said that nine percent of workers were on less than eight euros an hour gross while 40 percent made less than 10 euros an hour gross.

Nine euros an hour is the threshold set in one of the bills for a national minimum wage currently being discussed on the Senate.

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