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Press release

Labour market

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In the second quarter of 2020, the dynamics of the labour market were affected, even more than in the previous quarter, by the important perturbations induced by the health emergency. Labour input, measured by hours worked, showed a sharp decrease to both the previous quarter (-13.1%) and to the same quarter of 2019 (-20.0%). These trends were consistent with this stage of exceptional drop in the economic activity, with a quarter-over- quarter GDP decline of 12.8%.

On the job supply side, in the second quarter of 2020 the number of the employed persons underwent a quarter-on-quarter sharp drop (-470 thousand, -2.0%), mainly due to the decrease in temporary employment and in the self-employed. The employment rate dropped to 57.6%, 1.2 points down to the first quarter of 2020; young people aged 15-34 showed the most marked decrease (-2.2 points). In the seasonally adjusted provisional data of July 2020, after four months of decline, the number of the employed persons returned to grow (+85 thousand, + 0.4%) compared to June 2020, and the employment rate increased to 57.8 % (+0.2 points in one month), measuring a positive labour market reaction to the recovery of economic activity levels.

Compared to the second quarter of 2019, the number of employed persons dropped by 841 thousand units (-3.6% in one year). Temporary employees recorded the sharpest decrease (-677 thousand, -21.6%) and the self-employed kept on decreasing ( -219 thousand, -4.1%) while permanent employees slightly increased. The decrease in employment involved both full-time and part-time workers; for 63.9% of the latter part-time cases were involuntary. In addition to that, the employed who worked for at least 36 hours a week decreased as well (50.6%, -13.8 points), as a result of absences from work and the reduction in working hours due to the health emergency.

The reduction in the number of unemployed persons continued (-647 thousand in one year, -25.4%) with greater intensity in the year-on-year comparison. In addition to that, the increase in the number of the inactive aged 15-64 sharpened (1.310 million increase in one year, + 10.0%), as already observed in the previous quarter.

The unemployment rate was decreasing both to the previous quarter and to the same quarter of 2019 and was associated with the increase – quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year- in the inactivity rate of people aged 15-64. However, provisional data for July 2020 indicate a recovery in the unemployment rate and a decline in the inactivity rate.

On the business side, the labour demand decreased by 3.9% in employee jobs over the previous quarter and by 4.0% on an annual basis. Besides the decrease of employee jobs, there was a deep fall in hours worked per employee on a quarterly basis (-19.1%) and year-on-year basis (-26.2%). The use of short-time working allowances grew up exceptionally (+323,2 hours per 1,000 hours worked). The job vacancy rate went up to 0.9% compared to the previous quarter (+0.4 percentage points). Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, the job vacancy rate dropped by -0,5 percentage points. Labour cost increased by 5.4% to the previous quarter and by 6.1% to the same quarter of the previous year, as a result of both a growth in wages and salaries over the previous quarter (+5.6%) and previous year (+6.3), and a quarterly (+4.6%) and annual increase (+5.6%) of social security contributions.

Direct statistical surveys and data collection from administrative sources for statistical purposes have been affected by the current health emergency. Corrective actions have been carried out in order to counteract its statistical effects and to ensure processing and dissemination of data for the second quarter of 2020. It should be noted, however, that the estimates presented in this press release are provisional – also in the consistency of some indicators from different sources – and may therefore be revised on the basis of further analysis and more extensive and complete information when available.

Reference period: Second quarter 2020

Date of Issue: 11 September 2020

Next release: 11 December 2020

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