(see related stories) Rome, April 30 - The number of unemployed people in recession-hit Italy was 2.95 million in March, 297,000 more than in the same month in 2012, Istat said on Tuesday. The statistics agency added that the number was 14,000 lower than in February in absolute terms, even though the percentage of the overall working population on the dole was flat at 11.5%. Istat also reported that in March 22,674 people were in work, 51,000 (0.2%) fewer than in February and 248,000 fewer than in the same month in 2012. Earlier this month the agency stressed that its headline unemployment figures reflect only part of the problem of people being without jobs in Italy. For example, it said that in 2012 there were 2.975 million people who were willing to work but not actively looking for a job. In most cases these people have stopped looking because they have given up hope of finding a job as Italy endures its longest recession in 20 years. When added to the people who were unemployed in the traditional sense - those actively seeking work and eligible for unemployment benefits - this took the overall number of jobless in Italy in 2012 up to 5.72 million.
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di Giovanni Pastore