Italian Jobless Rate Returned to All-Time High in August

Italy’s unemployment rate rose more than forecast in August, returning to an all-time high reached in May as companies remained concerned that the economy may not exit soon from its longest recession since World War II.

Joblessness increased to 12.2 percent from a revised 12.1 percent in July, the Rome-based national statistics office Istat said in a preliminary report today. The August rate was higher than the 12.1 percent median of five estimates in a Bloomberg survey. In May the rate reached the highest since the data series began in the first quarter of 1977.

Concerns about the outlook for employment in Italy rose last month as Spain’s Telefonica SA tightened its grip on Telecom Italia SpA and the carrier Alitalia SpA’s crisis deepened, potentially souring Air France-KLM Group’s appetite to lift its stake in the company. In both cases, Italian labor leaders expressed worries that the foreign investors may eliminate jobs to cut costs.

The unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 24 rose to a historic high of 40.1 percent from 39.7 percent, Istat said today.

Italian Industrial production unexpectedly dropped in July, contradicting forecasts and expectations that the two-year long recession will come to an end in the second half of 2013.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government projects the unemployment rate to rise to 12.4 percent next year, the Treasury said in a report last month. That matches a forecast in a Sept. 27 report by the International Monetary Fund.

Joblessness unexpectedly increased also in Germany, a sign of an uneven recovery in the euro region’s biggest economy. In September the adjusted unemployment rate increased to 6.9 percent from 6.8 percent in the previous month, according to a report published today by the Nuremberg-based Federal Labor Agency.

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