Italy Unemployment Reaches Record High Amid Recession

July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Italy’s unemployment rose to a record in May amid companies’ concerns about the outlook for the country’s recession-hit economy.

Joblessness rose to 12.2 percent from 12 percent in April, the Rome-based national statistics office Istat said in a preliminary report today. The May rate was higher than the 12.1 percent median of seven estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Unemployment remained above 10 percent for a 16th month and reached the highest since the data series began in the first quarter of 1977.

The euro region’s third-biggest economy will probably shrink 1.9 percent in 2013, Italy’s employers lobby Confindustria said in a June 27 report. The lobby estimated that joblessness will reach 12.4 percent at the end of this year. Last week, Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s Cabinet passed a plan offering tax breaks to employers creating new jobs or converting temporary contracts into open-ended ones. The plan aims at boosting youth employment by allowing for up to 200,000 hires, the premier said.

The unemployment rate for people between the age of 15 and 24 fell to 38.5 percent in May, Istat said today.

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