Alarm as Italian unemployment hits record high

Biggest union fears jobless toll will rise further in 2013

Alarm as Italian unemployment hits record high

Rome, November 30 - There was widespread alarm in Italy on Friday when Istat said unemployment in the recession-hit country had reached a record high approaching three million. The number of people out of work in Italy reached 2.87 million in October, the national statistics agency said, adding that this was the highest level since monthly records began in January 2004 and since quarterly records started in the fourth quarter of 1992. The unemployment rate rose 0.3% to 11.1% of the working population in October compared to September and 2.3% over October 2011, Istat said. Again, this was the highest monthly rate, in percentage terms, since January 2004. Italy's biggest trade-union confederation, the left-wing CGIL, said it feared unemployment will get even worse next year because of the recession, which Italy is not forecast to emerge from until the second half of 2013. "On the job front 2013 will be even worse than 2012, which has already been the toughest year of the economic crisis," said CGIL Secretary-General Susanna Camusso. Camusso also called on unemployment benefits to be boosted given the expected rise in unemployment levels. Istat said the worrying rise was caused by there being some 95,000 more Italians out of work in October than in September, a 3.3% rise on absolute terms. Compared to October 2011, there were 644,000 more jobless, a rise of 28.9% in absolute terms, the statistics agency said. The level of youth unemployment is particularly disturbing. The jobless rate among 15-to-24-year-olds in October was 36.5%, the highest since monthly records began in January 2004 and quarterly records started in the fourth quarter of 1992, the statistics agency said. Some 639,000 15-to-24-year-olds are looking for jobs, Istat said. "I'm very, very worried," House Speaker Gianfranco Fini told a meeting of students in the parliament building. "These figures are an alarm bell that should ring in these rooms. "The world of politics has to do what's necessary to combat this and guarantee a future for our young people, but while the institutions have to do their bit, so do you. "There is no mamma state with institutions that hold your hand. You have to show you know how to do things". Premier Mario Monti's emergency government has introduced a number of structural economic reforms aimed at boosting growth and employment levels in the medium and long-term. But its austerity policies have deepened the recession Italy slipped into last year and contributed to rising unemployment. Monti said earlier this month that his government is now focusing increasingly on helping young people. "The government's activity in this time of serious difficulty, which has not yet been overcome but is being overcome, is directed towards young people," Monti said at the inauguration of the academic year at Milan's Bocconi University, where he used to teach. Istat also released figures on Friday which suggest that increasing numbers of the people who are lucky enough to have jobs are working on a part-time or temporary basis. Istat said the number of short-term and casual workers reached a new high of 2.877 million in October, the highest since records began in the third quarter of 2004. It said the number of part-time workers reached 3.847 million in October, the highest since the third quarter of 1993. More than half, 58%, are working part-time because they could not find long-term jobs, the statistics agency said.

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