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The key indicators of the labour market allow measuring important phenomena, such as the employment status of the working population and their participation in the income-generating activities. In addition, they allow measuring the economic growth trends of different areas in the European Union, useful to implement appropriate intervention policies. Finally, these indicators are crucial nowadays, since the economic crisis has had negative effects on employment, constraining the individuals' freedom of choice and realization.
The European policy strategy includes among its objectives the increase in the employment rate and recommend fostering a wide participation of women and over-50s in the labour market. In 2019, in Italy, the employment rate for the 20-64 age group rose to 63.5% (+0.5 percentage points compared to 2018). However, a strong gender gap, accounting for almost 20 percentage points to the detriment of women (53.8% compared to 73.4% of peers), was still registered. The growth in the employment rate for the 55-64 age group (+0.6 points in 2018) continued but slowed down, reaching the value of 54.3%, in 2019.
The increase in the employment rate largely concerned employees and to lesser extent temporary employees (the incidence of the latter is stable at 17.0%). Moreover, an increase (+ 3.0%) in part-time employees is registered, whose incidence generally rose to 19.0%, but with strong differences between men (8.8%) and women (32.9%).
In Italy, the phenomenon of undeclared work, although decreasing, still had a significant impact and involved 13.1% of employed, in 2017. This phenomenon is observed mainly in some production sectors: almost a quarter of the employment in the agriculture sector is not regular, while in the construction sector the average irregularity rate is equal to 16%. Instead, the industry sector in the strict sense showed the lowest rate of non-regularity.
In 2019, the unemployment rate fell by 0.7 points compared to 2018, reaching the value of 10.0%, but showed differences between females and males (11.1% and 9.1%, respectively). The reduction in the unemployment rate for the 15-24 age group was more consistent (-3.0 points); but the gender gap is observed even among young people, (31.2% for females against 27.8% for males). Nevertheless, the gender gap among young people was decreasing compared to 2018. Finally, the share of unemployed people, looking for a job for at least a year, decreased (-2.1 points) and dropped to 56.0% (55.8% for females against 56.1% for males).
The non-participation rate, which measures how many people are available to work but are not actively looking for a job, decreased for the fifth consecutive year, reaching the value of 18.9%, in 2019 (-0.8 percentage points). However, it remained almost 7 percentage points higher for women.
Most of the labour market indicators showed strong disparities across regions, which have sharpened after the 2008 economic crisis. In 2019, in relation to the 20-64 age group, more than 7 out of 10 people were employed in the Northern Regions, while in the South and the Islands 5 out of 10 were employed. The share of employed varied from 44.5% in Sicilia to 79.2% in the Province of Bolzano/Bozen. The regional gap in the employment rate for people aged between 55 and 64 years was more moderate, although it was growing: in the Northeast, the indicator reached the value of 60.2%, in the South and Islands 45.4%.
The incidence of part-time employment was uniformly distributed across regions. The share of temporary employees, instead, was higher in the South and the Islands: over 7 percentage points higher than in the Centre-North and a value for women slightly higher. In particular, the share of female temporary employees was equal to 13.1% in Lombardy and 28.8% in Calabria.
Between 2015 and 2016, all the Regions showed a decrease in the incidence of irregular employment (irregularity rate), with the exception of Emilia-Romagna where it remained stable. The South and the Islands showed the highest incidence (18.6%). In particular, Calabria (22.3%) registered the highest value while Basilicata (14.4%) the lowest one, but still higher than the national average (13.1%). In the Centre, Lazio showed the highest rate (15.6%). The North maintained the lowest average incidence and in particular Veneto showed the lowest one (8.9%).
Undeclared work was more widespread among the smallest production units and strongly characterized specific sectors. In the construction sector, the rate of irregular employment, in the South and the Islands, was almost 8 percentage points higher than the national average. The services sector showed a more reduced territorial variability than other sectors.
In 2019, the regional gap persisted also with regard to the unemployment rate. The values registered in the South and the Islands (17.6%), although decreasing, were three times higher than in the North-East and two times higher than in the Centre. In particular, Calabria showed the highest unemployment rate (21%). The gender gap did not change significantly, compared to 2018: it slowed down slightly in the South and the Islands, while in the North Liguria showed the highest one (+4.9 percentage points).
Despite the overall decline, youth unemployment has been still increasing in some region: in the South and the Islands, in Sardegna, Abruzzo and Molise; in the Centre, in Marche and Toscana; in the North it has increased slightly in Emilia-Romagna and Valle D'Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste. On the other hand, the reduction in the long-term unemployment involved all geographic areas and almost all regions. However, regional gap has persisted: in the North-East 4 out of 10 people had been looking for a job for at least a year, in the Centre 5 out of 10 and in the South and the Islands more than 6 out of 10 (68.5% in Sicilia). The reduction in the non-participation rate, which was higher for women, was widespread across all the Regions except for the Province of Trento, Marche and Campania. The non-participation rate was three times higher in the South and the Islands (34.1%) than in the Centre-North; in particular, Sicilia showed the highest level of the indicator (40.0%). The gender gap to the detriment of women, equal to -6.7 percentage points at national level, was almost double in the South and the Islands (-12.7 points).
In 2018, the European Union labour market confirmed its recovery, with an increase in the employment rate concerning the 20-64 age group, which stood at 73.1%, and a decline in the unemployment rate, which dropped to 6.8%. Italy, even if it showed an increase in the employment rate (63.0%), ranked second to last in Europe, followed only by Greece. The gap, highlighted by the comparison of Italy with EU countries, continued to increase (10.1 percentage points) and was even higher for women belonging to the same age group (14.3 percentage points).
The difference between the EU employment rate and the Italian one was less wide, if we consider the population aged between 55 and 64: the Italian rate was 5 points lower than the European average and for men it was close to the European value (64.2% against 65.4%).
The incidence of temporary employees in EU recorded a slight decline, reaching 14.1% in 2018, but the Italian value (17.1%), higher than the European one, grew by 1.6 percentage points. Spain recorded the highest value, exceeding 26%.
The incidence of part-time employees at both European and Italian level (20% and 18.5% respectively) recorded a slight decrease, leaving the gap unchanged (1.5 percentage points). Both in Europe and in Italy, part-time work continued to be far more prevalent among women: 32.0% against 9.7% for men in the EU average, 32.4% against 8.4% in Italy.
while it slightly increased in Italy, where the growth was driven exclusively by females, showing one of the highest values among the European countries.
The non-participation rate at EU level (in relation to the population aged between 15 and 74) decreased by 0.9 percentage points, compared to 2017 and in Italy by 0.8 points. Compared to the EU average, the gap remained substantially unchanged: 10 percentage points for the population as a whole, and 13 percentage points for women.
In 2018, the unemployment rate continued to drop both in EU and Italy (-0.6 points and -0.8 respectively) where, however, the level of the indicator remained much higher (10.6% against 6.8% EU average).
Despite the general reduction in EU, the unemployment rate of young people aged between 15 and 24 remained particularly critical in Greece (39.9%) and Spain (34.3%) which, along with Italy (32.2%), showed double values, compared to the EU average (15.2%). The incidence of long-term unemployment reduced by 1.7 percentage points in EU,