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Press release

Labour market

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Year 2019 was characterized by a further increase in employment with a relative decrease in the number of unemployed and inactive persons. However, in cyclical terms, the employment situation worsened all along the year.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, labour input in hours worked, decreased on a quarterly basis (-0.3%) and increased on a year-on-year terms (+0.3%). These dynamics are coherent with a a slowdown in the economic activity, confirmed in the last quarter by a negative cyclical change in GDP by -0.3%.

On the supply side, in the fourth quarter of 2019, in cyclical terms the number of persons employed remained substantially stable. This result depends on the increase in employees and the decrease in the self-employed persons. The employment rate reaches 59.2%, stable compared to the previous quarter. In the most recent monthly data (January 2020), net of seasonality, the employment rate and the number of employees show a decrease compared to the previous month.

The number of employees continues to grow (+ 0.9%, +207,000 in one year). This is the result of a re-composition in employment: employees, both permanent and temporary workers, increased, while the number of the self-employed decreased. In addition, the incidence of fixed-term employees compared to total employees rose to 17.2% (+0.1 points in a year). The trend in full-time employees reversed: after a fall in the previous quarter, it started to grow again. Part-time workers continued to increase at a rapid pace but for 63.9% this choice was not voluntary (-0.5 points). In the fourth quarter of 2019, among young people (15-34 years), employment and its relative rate continued to grow, in both short and cyclical terms.

The number of unemployed (-237,000 in one year, -8.4%, on an annual basis) decreased substantially for the eleventh consecutive quarter, both for the component “looking for first job” and for “people with previous work experience “. Even if at half rates compared to the last quarter, the number of the inactive aged 15-64 continued to decrease (-82,000 in one year, -0.6%).

The unemployment rate was falling, both to the previous quarter and to the previous year. The inactivity rate of people aged 15-64 was stable on a cyclical basis and slightly decreasing in the year-to-year term. The comparison between January 2020 to December 2019 showed a stable unemployment rate and a slight increase in inactivity rate.

Flow data – after 12 months – showed an increase in the permanence in employment, particularly for young people (15-34 years). Transitions to permanent jobs by temporary employees continued increasing (+6.1 points).

In this occasion, Istat published, for the first time, the new series of the job vacancy rate, the number of hours worked and hours worked per employee referred to all enterprises with employees. So far, only data for enterprises with at least ten employees have been disseminated. This press release includes only the new series, starting from the first quarter of 2016. However, both series are available in the attached files and on I.stat.

On the business side, the growth in labour demand continued, with an increase by 0.4% in employee jobs to the previous quarter (+1.6% on annual basis), resulting from the growth in both industry and services. Besides the increase in employee jobs, there was a decrease of hours worked per employee on a quarterly basis (-0.3%) and on year-on-year (-0.5%). In addition, the use of short-time working allowances grew up. The job vacancy rate remained unchanged compared with both the previous quarter and the same quarter of the previous year. Labour cost decreased by 0.1% compared to the previous quarter and increased by 1.3% compared to the same quarter of the previous year, as a result of stability to the previous quarter and 1% increase of wages and salaries on an annual basis, and a decrease in social security contributions by 0.3% on a quarterly basis accompanied by a 1.9% increase on annual basis.

Reference period: Q4 2019

Date of Issue: 12 March 2020

Next release: 12 June 2020



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