Italy Unemployment Falls As Fewer People Entered Job Market

Updated on
  • Consumers, employers becoming pessimistic as economy slows
  • Italian jobless lead EU in abandoning search for work

Italy’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in July as fewer people entered the labor market after being classified as “inactive” amid concerns about the outlook for recovery in the euro region’s third-biggest economy.

Unemployment dropped to 11.4 percent from 11.6 percent in June, national statistics agency Istat said Wednesday in Rome. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 11 analysts called for 11.6 percent in July. Euro-area unemployment for July will be released later in the day, and a separate Bloomberg survey calls for a rate of 10 percent for the 19-nation region.

Italian employers and households have grown pessimistic as Prime Minister Matteo Renzi struggles with an economy that stagnated in the second quarter according to a preliminary estimate, and is hindered by the destruction from last week’s deadly earthquake in the central part of the country. 

In August the business manufacturing confidence gauge dropped to the lowest since Feb. 2015 and morale among consumers plunged to the lowest in more than a year, Istat said Monday.

There were 63,000 fewer people employed in July compared with the prior month, Istat said Wednesday. Youth unemployment rose to 39.2 percent from a revised 37.3 percent in June, reaching the highest in almost an year.

The number of people classified as being inactive rose in July by 53,000, or 0.4 percent, after falling in the previous four months.

Searches Abandoned

Jobless Italians have been leading European Union peers in abandoning their employment search, the latest data available show. Going from the final quarter of 2015 through March of this year, 37 percent of the nation’s unemployed gave up their job hunt, while only 13 percent landed new work and a full half found their status unchanged, according to the EU statistic office Eurostat.

The earthquake that killed at least 290 people in Lazio, Marche and Umbria regions hit as Renzi already faces criticism for the economic stagnation and rising public debt while a constitutional referendum in the autumn could decide his political future.

— With assistance by Giovanni Salzano

(Updates with chart after 2nd paragraph.)
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