The second quarter of 2018 was characterised by a marked increase in employment compared to the previous quarter, in a context of falling unemployment and inactivity. These economic dynamics of the labour market are part of a phase of slight deceleration of GDP growth (+0.2% on a quarter-on-quarter basis and +1.2% on an annual basis) compared to the rate recorded in the two previous quarters. Economic growth in Italy was slower than that of the economies of the Eurozone countries, which grew by 0.4% compared to the previous quarter and by 2.2% compared to the second quarter of 2017. In Italy, economic growth was associated with a relatively high increase in labour input, which increased more intensively than the product both quarter-on-quarter (+0.7%) and year-on-year (+1.5%).
On the labour supply side, in the second quarter of 2018 employment grew at a sustained pace compared to the previous quarter (+203 thousand, +0.9 points) as a result of the further increase in temporary employees, the stability of permanent workers and the recovery of self-employment. The employment rate increased by 0.5 points to 58.7%. In the most recent monthly data (July 2018), net of seasonality, the number of employees showed a slight decrease compared to June 2018 (-0.1%) and the employment rate remained stable.
The year-on-year trend showed a growth of 387 thousand employees (+1.7% in one year), concentrated among temporary employees against the decline of those permanent (+390 thousand and -33 thousand, respectively) and the growth of the self-employed (+30 thousand). In the second quarter of 2018, the incidence of fixed-term employees on the total number of employees reached 17%. The increase in full-time employment has been continuing for fifteen quarters; the number of part-time workers is increasing again, exclusively in the involuntary component, whose incidence rose to 63.7% (+3.1 points) of part-time workers and to 11.9% of total employment (+0.6 points).
In the second quarter of 2018, the growth of employment and the related rate for young people aged 15-34, which took place at both the quarterly and yearly level, continued. The increase in employment, although widespread by gender and distribution, was more intense for women and in the regions of Central and Southern Italy.
The unemployment rate decreased compared to both the previous quarter and the previous year, as well as the rate of inactivity. In the monthly data for July 2018, compared to the previous month, the decrease in the unemployment rate was associated with the increase in the inactivity rate.
In the yearly comparison, for the fifth consecutive quarter, the decrease in the number of unemployed continued, albeit with less intensity, (-34 thousand in one year, -1.2%). It only concerned the South, affected both genders and individuals up to 49 years of age. The strong downward trend of inactive people aged 15-64 (- 394 thousand, -2.9%) was instead widespread by gender, territory and age group.
In the flow data, an increase was registered in the number of people entering employment from both unemployment and inactivity; the increase mainly involved men, young people aged 25-34, individuals with a high level of education and residents in the North area.
In enterprise data short-term signs of growth of labour demand were confirmed, with an increase in employee jobs by 0.4% on the previous quarter and by 2.5% year-on-year, derived from the growth both in industry and services. However, the rise in employee jobs was associated with a decrease of hours worked per employee on a quarter over quarter basis (-0.2%). A decrease of hours worked per employee was also observed in comparison with the same quarter of the previous year (-0.4%). In addition, the use of short-time working allowance hours continued to decline. The job vacancy rate increased either compared with the previous quarter or year-on-year, respectively by 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points. Labour cost increased by 0.7% compared to the previous quarter and by 2.5% compared to the same quarter of the previous year, as a result of a more marked increase in social security contributions (+1.5% on a short term basis and +4.3% on an annual basis) than that observed for wages (+0.4% compared to the previous quarter and +1.9% on an annual basis).