During the first quarter of 2016 Italian economy grew at a slightly higher rhythm to the second semester of last year. The Gdp increase by 0.3% on a quarterly basis and by 1% year-on-year went together with a growing use of labour. The total hours worked increased on a quarterly basis by 0.5% to the previous quarter and by 2.1% on an annual basis. This increase involved all the main economic sectors except constructions.
On the labour supply side, in the first quarter of 2016 total employment slightly grew to the previous quarter, after a light decrease in the fourth quarter, but with highly differentiated dynamics among the types of employment. The significant increase in permanent employees was balanced by the decrease in temporary employment and by the stability of the self-employed. Widening gaps emerged also in relation to the age class of employed persons, with an increase for the aged 50-64 and slight decreases for the aged 15-34 and 35-49. The most recent trends measured on seasonally adjusted monthly data and referred to April 2016, recorded improved employment levels, with a total growth of employed persons for the second and consecutive month.
The year-on-year dynamics evidenced between the first quarter of 2015 to the first three month of the current year led to a total growth of 242 thousand employed persons on an annual basis, with a relevant share of permanent employees (+341 thousands), a general stability of temporary employees and a drop in the self-employed, the latter mainly due to para-subordinate workers and self-employed with no employees. The most relevant increase was for part-time jobs, mainly the voluntary type, but also full-time jobs were still increasing. Moreover employment increased especially for men in the northern Italian regions, for the over 50, for graduates and for foreigners on an annual basis.
A significant aspect of the recent dynamics in the labour market was the decrease both on a quarterly and on an annual basis, of the inactive persons (both as absolute numbers and incidence), while the unemployment rate was unchanged to the previous quarter and decreased about one percentage point to the first three months of 2015, with a year-on-year drop by 127 thousands of long-term unemployed persons.
Stock changes in employment implicated significant changes in people’s conditions in the labour market, measured by flow data after twelve months – transitions to permanent jobs of employed persons increased particularly for temporary employees and above all for para-subordinate workers. Moreover the flow from unemployment to employment increased exclusively for the permanent job share. However, the transitions from unemployment to employment increased for the youth aged 15-34 and for men only, and it was higher among the Centre and North residents and among graduates.
As for enterprises, the signs of growth in labour demand strengthened and widened with a significant increase both in employee jobs and in hours worked per capita, and also with the robust reduction in the use of short-time working allowance hours payments, both on a quarterly and on an annual basis. Employment growth was progressively extending to all economic activity sectors, with more intensity in services. The job vacancy rate was stable on a quarterly basis and increased on an annual basis. As for labour cost, social security contributions kept on decreasing due to the significant rebate associated to new hiring of permanent employees.