Labour market information

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Italy - National Level

Short overview of the labour market


The Italian labour market differs widely between the regions, with industrial activity mostly concentrated in the north, with the southern regions dedicated mainly to agriculture and tourism.

The Italian population is declining significantly, with a negative natural balance of -214 262 at 31 December 2019, mitigated mostly by the migratory flows of recent years.

As at 31 December 2019, the Italian population stood at over 60 million (60 244 639). Population density is highest in the following regions: Lombardy, Lazio, Veneto and Liguria.

Between 2020 and 2024, the Italian economic system will have to replace more than 2.5 million people currently in work, as they reach retirement age or for other reasons. This figure, coupled with the expected increases (or decreases) in employment based on possible annual GDP trends, will result in a total employment need of between 1.9 and 2.7 million workers.

This is illustrated by the results of the latest update (July 2020) of the employment needs forecasting model developed under the Excelsior Information System by Unioncamere. The model is based on two possible scenarios according to whether the economy expands or contracts: under scenario A (baseline scenario), in the 5-year period 2020-2024, economic growth could generate an increase of 179 000 people in work compared to 2019, with highly uneven distribution across the various sectors; under scenario B (adverse scenario), the number of people in work would fall by about 556 000 people by the end of the 5-year period.

The two scenarios are based on the GDP estimates published in the Italian government’s Economic and Financial Document (DEF 2020): scenario A assumes a fall in real GDP of 8 % in 2020 and a partial recovery of 4.7 % in 2021, while scenario B assumes a GDP fall of -10.6 % in 2020, with +2.3 % recovery in 2021.

A climate of uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic permeates the autumn of 2020, with 789 000 recruitments planned by enterprises over the 3-month period August-October, down -25.5 % year-on-year.

The contraction might be due to the businesses’ lack of operating liquidity. Almost 780 000 businesses (58.4 % of the total) expect to experience problems in the next 6 months, against slightly under 565 000 expecting an improvement in their financial situation. The slump in demand triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty about when a recovery is likely to happen, heightened by the widespread disruption in global markets, make many companies fear that they will not be able to generate the necessary cash flow to ensure normal business operations. 

Micro enterprises (with one to nine employees) have been those worst hit, with 60.4 % reporting insufficient liquidity levels, a situation that significantly improves the larger the company is, with a figure of 44.0 % reported in businesses with more than 250 employees. 

The catering industry and services linked to tourism are the worst-hit sectors, with important business segments, such as those linked to foreign tourism in heritage cities, showing only very small signs of recovery. Other personal services (which also include recreational, cultural and sports activities) and private education and training are also experiencing a severe contraction.

In the manufacturing industry, the fashion industry has been the worst hit by the lockdown, followed by the wood and furniture and paper industries. 

Seasonal work and agriculture

The Covid-19 emergency and the resulting border closures have particularly affected seasonal work and the agricultural sector, which have undergone a severe crisis. In order to mitigate the situation, Law No 27 of 24 April 2020 extended to 31 August 2020 all the residence permits for seasonal workers expiring between 31 January 2020 and 31 July 2020.

Subsequently, Decree-Law No 34 of 19 May 2020 (‘Relaunch Decree’) confirmed and extended eligibility for the allowance of EUR 600 (introduced in April) to other categories of workers whose activity or employment relationship had been terminated, reduced or suspended. In particular, the Decree introduced support schemes for seasonal and agricultural workers.

Unioncamere – ANPAL, Excelsior information system: press releases of 21 and 25 August 2020


Text last edited on: 11/2020

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