Supermarket Crisis Lottery Offers Italians Prize of a Job
An Italian supermarket chain is offering customers who spend more than 30 euros ($39) a shot at a lottery with an unusual payoff: jobs.
“Our competition is open to everyone, of any age or social class,” said Alessandra Aloisi, human resources manager at Gruppo BSE, which controls three One Price supermarkets in the Rome area. “Some participants are even asking if they can pass the prize, that is the job, on to a relative or friend,” she said.
The chain is awarding part-time, temporary shop-assistant positions to winners of the lottery. Anyone spending more than 30 euros at one of their stores can enter the draw.
Italy’s economy is mired in its fourth recession since 2001 and a double-digit joblessness rate is harming domestic demand. The unemployment rate rose to a 13-year high of 11.1 percent in October, the National Statistics Institute said today.
“Some companies invest in other prize competitions, like free-holiday contests,” Aloisi said. “We think it’s more ethical to offer a job opportunity, even a temporary one.” The 4-hour-a-day jobs One Price will award to 12 contest winners come with monthly gross pay of 1,100 euros.
Italy’s recession will probably extend through much of next year and the jobless rate will rise to 11.4 next year, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development forecast this month.
“It is important to consider the very difficult labor conditions we have at present,” said Salvatore Zecchini, an economist at Tor Vergata University in Rome. The lottery, which runs through Dec. 30, is “an indicator of the tensions and difficulties of finding employment.”
Prime Minister Mario Monti this year modified his proposals to ease firing regulations and encourage the use of apprenticeship contracts while offering tax breaks to businesses hiring part-time employees on an open-ended basis.
In its latest Economic Outlook report on Nov. 28, the Paris-based OECD said Monti policies such as the labor-market overhaul go in the right direction and will help when recovery comes, though they won’t produce tangible effects in the medium term.
“We will see an increase in employment only when the business cycle starts to recover,” said Zecchini. “As long as you have depressed domestic demand and relatively little expansion on exports, it would be preposterous in my opinion that we are going to see a big jump in employment.”
Aloisi said that about 90 percent of shoppers spending more than the 30-euro entry level for the lottery have opted to play.
“I started my career with a temporary job,” she said. “I seized the opportunity, and I am still here.”
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