Employment in Italy Is Growing: Race to Close Gap with Europe

Trade and Economics - May 29, 2024

The employment rate is growing in Italy. For more than a year now, with few exceptions, the values have always had a ‘+’ sign. An important result that the Italian government proudly claims. ISTAT, the Italian Institute of Statistics, recently released data for the month of March, reporting an increase in the number of the employed and a decrease in the number of the unemployed. The number of inactive people, however, is also on the rise.


March 2024: the numbers in Italy


Compared to February, March counted a growth in employment in the Bel Paese of 0.3 per cent, with 70 thousand more units. This is true for both women and men, for employees and for the self-employed, and for all age groups except for the 35-49 range, which recorded a drop.  Overall, the employment rate rose to 62.1 per cent (i.e. +0.2 points).


As for the unemployed, i.e. people who are actively looking for a job, the number fell in percentage terms by 2.8, i.e. 53 thousand fewer units than in the previous month. Again, the reference is to both genders and to every age group excluding the 35-49 bracket. In total, ISTAT notes, the unemployment rate fell to 7.2 per cent (-0.2 points), the youth unemployment rate to 20.1 per cent (-2.3 points). A very interesting result, the best recorded since 2009.


The inactive


Of some concern is the number of inactive people, i.e. individuals that do not have a job and are not looking for one. Translated into numbers, the increase is by 0.1% (12 thousand more people between the ages of 15 and 64). The numbers, however, determine a stability: the rate remains, in general, at 33 per cent.


2024 vs 2023


To fully understand the employment trend in Italy, ISTAT compares the first quarter of 2024 with the fourth quarter of 2023. The general overview shows an increase in the level of employment by 0.2 per cent, for a total of 56 thousand employed. A growth dictated by the decrease in job seekers and the increase in inactive persons, two variables that must necessarily be considered in the equation.


It should be noted that the number of employed people in March 2024 exceeded that of the same month in the previous year by 1.8 per cent (in short, +425 thousand units).


The situation in Europe


The ISTAT data gives a definite picture of the country, pointing to clear improvements. However, the race towards numbers in line with European standards still requires acceleration. In fact, while the European average unemployment rate stands at 6 per cent, Italy – as already mentioned – stands at 7.2 per cent. Analysing further the performance in terms of unemployment, it is necessary to examine an important aspect concerning young people under 25 years of age. Unemployment, when compared to this age group, reaches 20.1 per cent; the European average, on the other hand, is 14.6 per cent. However, as Prime Minister Meloni said on Labour and Workers’ Day last May 1, the government is putting in place a series of measures to allow new hires, making sure that companies are supported in hiring staff.


A final thought concerns female employment: in Italy, the number of employed women stands at 53 per cent, a number that is far behind the European average, which instead translates into a percentage of 70 per cent. More specifically, comparing the Italian results with Germany and France, the gap grows: the former has a value of 77.4 per cent, while the latter of 71.7 per cent. The gap, in any case, is also internal: between employed women and men, the gap is about twenty points in favour of the latter. The data, therefore, indicate the need for further change; the issue has been addressed on several occasions in the run-up to the European elections next June and politicians have, in their programmes, devoted deep attention to women’s work and developments in this respect in the years to come.