In the third quarter of 2020, the dynamics of the labour market, in addition to still being influenced by the perturbations induced by the health emergency, are positively influenced by the strong economic recovery in economic activity levels. Labour input, measured by hours worked, showed a strong increase to the previous quarter (+21.0%) but still lagging behind compared to the same quarter of 2019 (-5.9%); after the significant contraction of the first half of the year, GDP shows a cyclical growth of 15.9% and a trend decline of 5%.
On the job supply side, in the third quarter of 2020 the number of employed persons returned to grow quarter-over- quarter (+56,000, + 0.2%), due to the higher increase in employees than the decline in self-employed. The employment rate rose to 57.9% (+0.2 points compared to the second quarter of 2020), with the South recording the most marked growth (+0.6 points in the three months). After the increase in July and August and the substantial stability in September, the provisional data for October 2020 – seasonally adjusted – indicate a slight decrease in employment (-13 thousand, -0.1% in one month), in the face of an employment rate which remained stable at 58.0%.
Compared to the third quarter of 2019, the number of employed persons fell by 622 thousand units (-2.6% in one year): mainly fixed-term employees decreased (-449 thousand, -14.1%), the self-employed continued to decrease (-218 thousand, -4.1%) while the number of permanent employees slightly increased. The decline affected both full-time and part-time employees, among whom the incidence of involuntary part-time stood at 66.4%.
In the annual comparison, after the uninterrupted decline for thirteen consecutive quarters, the number of the unemployed increased again (+202 thousand in a year, +8.6%), involving both individuals looking for their first job and those with previous experience of work. On the other hand, the increase in the number of the inactive aged 15-64 (+2.0%, +265 thousand in one year) slowed down.
The unemployment rate increased both quarter-over- quarter and year-over-year, while the inactivity rate – among people aged 15-64 – increased year-over-year only, recording instead a decrease to the second quarter of 2020 quarter-over-quarter. The provisional data for the month of October indicate the economic stability of both the unemployment rate and the inactivity rate.
On the enterprise side, the economic activiy recovery of the summer months led to an increase in labour demand by 2.2% in employee jobs in the third quarter to the previous quarter and a slowdown in the decreasing annual trend observed as from the second quarter of 2020, and a fall by 1.9% to the same quarter of the previous year. The economic recovery was also showed by a robust increase in hours worked per employee on a quarterly basis (29.1%) and by a small drop on an annual basis (-4.8%). The use of short-time working allowances grew up year-over-year (+80,9 hours per 1,000 hours worked), even if to a smaller extent to the previous quarter. The job vacancy rate went up to the previous quarter (+0.2 percentage points). Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, the job vacancy rate dropped by -0.3 percentage points. Labour cost decreased by 4.8% on a quarterly basis, as a result of both a decrease in wages and salaries equal to 5.0%, and in social security contributions 4.2%. On an annual basis, labour cost increased by 1.0%, following a growth both in wages and salaries (+0.9%) and in social security contributions (1.2%).
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 third 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.