Italy set for net loss of 250,000 jobs in 2013

750,000 new hires, but one million set to leave labour market

Italy set for net loss of 250,000 jobs in 2013

(By Paul Virgo) Rome, July 23 - Recession-hit Italy is set to suffer a net loss of 250,000 jobs in the private sector this year, according to figures released Tuesday by the association of Italian chambers of commerce (Unioncamere). According to the data, there will be 750,000 new hires in 2013 in the industry and service sectors, but almost one million people will leave the labour market because of redundancies, dismissals and retirements. The level of new recruitment is set to be 112,000 lower than in 2012 in Italy, which is struggling to emerge from its longest recession in over two decades. Italy's unemployment level climbed to a new record high of 12.2% in May, national statistics agency Istat said, with 3.14 million people out of work. Joblessness is particularly bad among young Italians, with around four in 10 under-25s out of work. Despite the bleak picture, Labour Minister Enrico Giovannini said Italian firms were doing their best not to lay staff off. "Despite the crisis and a fall in gross domestic product, forecast to be about 2% this year, the Unioncamere figures show that companies are trying to keep their workers, as the fall in employment levels is around 1%," said Giovannini. Premier Enrico Letta's left-right government has said fighting unemployment, especially among the young, is its top priority, although it is having trouble finding money to finance efforts for job creation. Italian industrial employers' confederation Confindustria has called for labour taxes to be cut to encourage firms to hire workers. But ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, whose support Letta needs to keep his executive afloat, has said first the government must scrap an unpopular property tax call IMU and avert a 1% rise in the top band of value added tax scheduled to kick in later this year. The administration has made some progress though. In June the cabinet passed a package of tax breaks to encourage firms to take on young people that it hopes will create 200,000 new jobs. These measures are aimed at the young people worse equipped to face up to the effects of the recession, such as those without a high-school diploma, those living alone and those who have another person depending on them. Also in June, a summit of European Union leaders approved another package to combat youth unemployment worth up to nine billion euros, after Letta insisted the issue be at the top of the agenda. Letta hailed the outcome as a victory for Rome and said around 1.5 billion euros of the money would go to Italy, although members of the PdL derided this as "crumbs".

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