World Economy

Italy Unemployment at Record High

Italy Unemployment at Record HighItaly Unemployment at Record High

Italy’s unemployment rate rose again in November, reaching a new all-time high, as the government seeks to reform the labor market amid growing pressure for it to reduce the jobless in the country.

The official jobless rate increased to 13.4% from 13.3% in October, national statistics institute Istat reported Wednesday, citing preliminary and seasonally adjusted data. It grew 0.9 percentage points from November 2013, Dow Jones said.

The November reading is a record high since the statistical series began on a monthly basis in 2004 and on a quarterly basis in 1977, an Istat official said.

The unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 24 rose to 43.9% in November. Youth unemployment is a politically sensitive subject for the 11-month-old government of premier Matteo Renzi, who is seeking to overhaul the country’s rigid jobs market to help push Italy out of its most prolonged recession in decades.

The November youth jobless rate was up 0.6 percentage points on the month and 2.4 percentage points on the year, Istat said.

Italy’s relentless downturn is fuelling criticism of Renzi, whose efforts to rekindle growth have led to clashes with the unions.

He was accused on the weekend of trying to push through measures it was claimed could lead to the annulment of a former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s 2012 tax fraud conviction.

Renzi later said the tax law reform would be put on hold until Berlusconi, 78, has finished serving his community sentence.

The bill presented included a measure that would ease or scrap punishment for those convicted of tax crimes where the amount in question was only a small percentage of their total taxable income.

Critics fear such a measure could see Berlusconi return to the political scene in a bid to seek protection from his other legal woes, including charges that he bribed a senator to swap sides in parliament.

  Economic Morass

Renzi, the youngest leader in Europe, faces a national economic morass that, if not decisively addressed in the coming months, could bring down the entire 17-nation eurozone.

Indeed, if he does not tackle the staggering national debt and woeful unemployment numbers, Italians this time next year could find themselves back using the lire – and the German marks, French francs, Spanish pesetas and Dutch guilders too.

When the 89-year old president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, announced this week that he is stepping down soon because of his age, he urged Italians to embrace something that has always been in short order here: national unity and trust in each other and in Italy’s institutions.

Giannelli, the cartoonist of the Corriere della Sera, could not help but comment on the symbolism of the departure of Napolitano, who it depicted throwing a crown over his head that was caught by a smiling Renzi, who turns just 40 on Jan. 11. “Grazie, Giorgio!” Renzi exclaims in the cartoon.