Italy's Palermo and Naples Offer Worst Job Prospects in EU, Survey Shows

Italy’s crime-ridden Palermo and Naples offer the fewest job opportunities in a survey of 75 European cities, a European Commission report showed.

The 157-page quality-of-life survey was conducted between Oct. 30 and Nov. 10 by the Gallup Organization in Hungary for the commission, which published the findings this week on its website. Gallup interviewed 37,500 citizens aged 15 and older in the 27-nation EU, Croatia and Turkey.

Italy’s poorer southern regions have been dogged by organized crime, tax evasion and the country’s highest unemployment rate. In Sicily, where Palermo is located, the official unemployment rate is 14.1 percent compared with 6.4 percent in Lombardy, home to Italy’s financial capital Milan.

When it comes to finding work, Diyarbakir in Turkey’s far- flung eastern Anatolia offers better prospects than Italy’s two biggest southern cities, according to the survey. In top-ranked Stockholm, 61 percent said they strongly or somewhat agree that it’s easy to find a good job, compared with 3 percent in Naples and Palermo, both ranked last.

The scarcity of well-paid work has created a thriving underground economy, estimated to be worth as much as 19 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product and bigger than Ireland’s entire national wealth. Italians declare an average annual income of 18,373 euros ($23,127), a fraction of their real earnings, Rome-based research institute Censis estimates.

Europe’s north-south economic divide has grown since the euro’s introduction in 1999, except for a slight narrowing last year, according to a European Central Bank index that ranks competitiveness based on the volume of imports and exports, adjusted for local prices.

The World Economic Forum’s competitiveness report for 2009 showed that Finland, Germany, France and the Netherlands are the euro-area’s most competitive countries while Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain are its laggards.

To contact the reporter on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in Rome at fjackson@bloomberg.net

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