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Italian Unemployment Rate Decreases as Fewer Sought Jobs

  • Youth joblessness declined to 35.2%, lowest since August 2012
  • Consumer, business morale rose last month as inflation slowed

Italy’s unemployment declined in February as the number of people looking for a job fell the most in any month since July 2015.

The jobless rate dropped to 11.5 percent from a revised 11.8 percent in January, statistics agency Istat said Monday in Rome. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 10 analysts called for a reading of 11.9 percent. There were 83,000 fewer people looking for work in February, the biggest decline on a monthly basis since July 2015, the data also showed.

Italy’s gross domestic product is set to rise 0.9 percent this year, the European Union said in February. Manufacturers’ morale improved in March, while estimates of industrial output signaled a potential contraction in activity and the risk that the euro region’s third-biggest economy may slip back toward recession.

Employment may be hurt in coming months by the phasing out of a discount on employer-paid social contributions for new hires introduced in 2015 by then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government. The benefit, already reduced last year, ended in December.

As many as 2,000 full-time and temporary employees at Alitalia SpA could lose their jobs under a new business plan approved by the airline’s board last month that calls for the carrier to reduce costs by 1 billion euros by 2019.

Household confidence rose last month as the inflation rate fell to 1.3 percent from 1.6 percent in February, Istat said in separate reports last week.

There were 8,000 more people employed in February compared with the prior month, Istat said. Joblessness for those aged 15 to 24 declined to 35.2 percent from 36.9 percent in January. That was the lowest since August 2012.

Istat originally reported an unemployment rate at 11.9 percent for January.

— With assistance by Andre Tartar

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