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Italy Unemployment Rate Rises to Highest Since at Least 1992

Italy’s joblessness rose to the highest level since at least 1992 in January as businesses refrained from hiring after the country’s recession deepened.

The unemployment rate rose to 11.7 percent from a revised 11.3 percent in December, the Rome-based national statistics office Istat said in a preliminary report today. The January rate was higher than the 11.3 percent median of six estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Unemployment remained above 10 percent for a 12th month.

Italy’s economy shrank 1 percent in the fourth quarter as the recession deepened more than forecast amid a fall in consumer spending and investments by companies. Rising exports may help the euro region’s third-biggest economy return to growth in the second half, both the Bank of Italy and the government led by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti said. Still, confidence among households and businesses may fall in coming months after last month’s elections led to a hung Parliament.

The unemployment rate for people between the age of 15 and 24 rose to 38.7 percent in January, Istat said today. Istat originally reported an unemployment rate of 11.2 percent in December.

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