Italy’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in September while the loss of 36,000 jobs during the month could signal difficulties for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s plans to put the economy on a sustainable growth path.

The rate was 11.8 percent last month, down from 11.9 percent in August, national statistics agency Istat said Friday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of seven analysts called for 11.9 percent.

Italy’s economy has been recovering from a record-long recession, posting 0.3 percent expansion in the second quarter. The recovery received a boost on Wednesday when Istat said consumer confidence rose this month to the highest level in more than 13 years, while manufacturing business confidence was the highest since early 2011.

Even after signs of recovery earlier this year, “the path toward levels of
employment close to the rest of Europe seems to be an extremely long and difficult one,” Riccardo Padovani, head of state-funded research institute Svimez said on Tuesday at an event in Rome. The same day day Svimez presented a report saying that at the end of the first half joblessness in Italy’s southern regions exceeded 20 percent, or about 8 percentage points more than the national average.

Youth joblessness fell in September to 40.5 percent from 40.8 percent in the previous month, Istat said. The rate has exceeded 40 percent for more than two years. In addition to the job losses, Istat said there were 35,000 fewer job seekers in September.

Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco said Wednesday the country’s economy may expand almost 1 percent this year, above earlier estimates.

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