Italy’s unemployment rate fell to 12.3 percent in June in a positive sign for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s economic program. Youth unemployment rose to a record high.
The jobless rate rose dropped from 12.6 percent in May, the Rome-based national statistics office Istat said in a preliminary report today. The median estimate of eight economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a June unemployment rate of 12.6 percent.
Renzi has pledged to make job creation a priority. He has passed tax cuts for lower-paid workers in a bid to spur consumer consumption that would in turn help create more jobs.
The country’s economy contracted 0.1 percent in the first quarter. Istat will release the preliminary reading of GDP in second quarter on Aug. 6.
“As the labor market typically starts to improve two quarters after gross domestic product begins to recover, it’s very unlikely to have a radical change of direction in the next few months,” Filippo Taddei, head of economic policy in Renzi’s Democratic Party, said in a July 25 interview.
Joblessness among those between the ages of 15 to 24 rose to 43.7 percent in June from 43.1 percent in May, today’s report also showed. That was the highest since records started in 1977.
Renzi has pledged to bring the youth unemployment issue to the table during the six months of Italy’s rotating presidency of the European Union that started July 1.