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Press release

Labour market

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The labour market dynamics in the first quarter of 2020 have been strongly affected by the consequences of the health emergency since the last week of February.

In the first quarter of 2020, labour input in hours worked, severely decreased both on a quarterly basis (-7,5%) and on year-on-year terms (-7.7%). These dynamics reflected the exceptional fall in the economic activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a negative cyclical change in Gdp by -5.3% in the last quarter.

On the labour supply side, in the first quarter of 2020 the number of people in employment decreased in economic terms (-101 thousand, -0.4%), following the increase in permanent employees and the drop in fixed-term employees and in the self-employed. The employment rate went down to 58.8%, -0.2 points compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The effect of the Covid-19 emergency is more evident in most recent monthly data (April 2020) net of seasonal effects: the number of employees decreased by 274 thousand units (-1.2%) over March 2020, and the employment rate went down to 57.9% (-0.7 points in a month).

In trend terms, the growth in the number of employed persons slowed down (+0.2%, +52 thousand over the first quarter of 2019), due to the permanent employment component despite a decline in fixed-term employees and in self-employment. The growth was more marked among part-time employees, 63.0% of whom were involuntary part-timers. In addition, the number of employees who worked at least 36 hours per week decreased (57.8%, -8.8 points), as a result of absences from work and reduced hours due to the health emergency.

In the annual comparison, the number of people seeking employment decreased for the twelfth consecutive quarter at an even faster pace (-467 thousand in a year, -16.3%). After decreasing in the two previous quarters, the number of inactive people aged 15-64 increased at a fast pace (+290 thousand in one year, +2.2%).

On the business side, the labour demand decreased by 0.5% in employee jobs over the previous quarter, even if an increase was still recorded on an annual basis (+0.6%). Besides the fall in employee jobs, there was a decrease of hours worked per employee on a quarterly basis (-8.8%) and year-on-year basis (-9.4%). The use of short-time working allowances grew up significantly (+68,6 hours per 1,000 hours worked). The job vacancy rate sharply fell to 0.5% compared with the previous quarter (-0.9 percentage points). Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, the job vacancy rate severely dropped by 1,1 percentage points. Labour cost increased by 0.6% compared to the previous quarter and by 0.8% compared to the same quarter of the previous year, as a result both of a growth in wages and salaries over the previous quarter (+0.4%) and previous year (+0.7), and a quarterly (+1%) and annual increase (+1.2%) 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 first quarter of 2020. It should be noted, however, that the estimates presented in this press release are provisional – also with regard to 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.

16 June 2020: the text of the Report has been substituted, due to the correction of the following mistakes:

  • page 1 paragraph 6: “On the business side, the labour demand decreased by 0.5%” (instead of 0.4%)
  • page 5 paragraph 5 line 6: “quarterly basis” (instead of monthly basis);

Reference period: Q1 2020

Date of Issue: 12 June 2020

Next release: 11 September 2020



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