Italy Unemployment Declines From Highest Since at Least 1992

Italy’s joblessness fell in February from the highest level since at least 1992 as recession-scarred businesses await tax cuts that could stimulate growth.

The unemployment rate declined to 11.6 percent from 11.7 percent in January, the Rome-based national statistics office Istat said in a preliminary report today. That’s less than the 11.8 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Unemployment remained above 10 percent for an 11th month.

Italian businesses are bracing for a fiscal stimulus after voters in February repudiated Prime Minister Mario Monti’s program of tax increases and budget cuts. While rivalries in the deadlocked parliament have so far prevented the formation of a government, each of the four biggest political parties has said they are in favor of easing the tax burden.

The economy shrank 1 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31, the sixth consecutive quarterly decline.

Editors: Jerrold Colten, Dan Liefgreen

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