Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Italian Employment Is Booming, But the Catch Is Temporary Jobs

While the number of people with jobs is at a record high, analysis of the types of employment shows many aren’t permanent

Italy’s employers are increasingly relying on temporary workers, taking the shine off positive labor numbers and leaving a weak spot in the economic recovery.

While the number of people with jobs is at a record high and unemployment fell in November to its lowest in five years, an analysis of the types of position tells a more complex story.

Temporary Recovery?

Number of employed rose by 1.1 million since May 2014, but 58% in temporary jobs

Source: Bloomberg calculations based on Istat data

About 1.1 million more Italians are employed compared with when the country embarked on the latest overhaul of its labor market by offering benefits for open-ended contracts. But almost six out of 10 of those fixed-term jobs, according to Bloomberg News calculations based on data from the statistics office.

The figures may have an additional significance as political parties ramp up campaigning for the March 4 general election. Opposition parties will want to target the Democratic Party-led government’s economic-policy record, and questions about the quality of jobs created give them an opening.

Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, leader of a center-right bloc of parties with close to 40 percent support in polls, called this week for a review of the labor code, citing the number of temporary jobs.

Similar calls have been made by the Five Star Movement, which is the strongest single party in all voting-intention surveys, adding pressure on the Democratic Party.

As in many other European countries, the Italian government has tried to squelch fixed-term jobs, but they have still surged.

To reduce the use of part-time and fixed-term contracts, the government may consider a new round of incentives for businesses after an old measure first introduced in 2014 was phased out, Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said in an interview with Corriere della Sera daily published on Sunday.

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