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Economy in Brief

 Employment Situation in Italy Improves: Foreign New Orders up Sharply 
by Louise Curley June 20, 2006

Italy's labor force survey for the first quarter shows commendable improvement in the employment situation throughout the country. Total employment rose almost 1% to 22.8 million in the first quarter from the last quarter of 2005 and was 1.2% above the first quarter or 2005. Employment in the North, where more than half the work force is employed, increased 1.2% over a year ago, while employment in the Central Region, where about 20% of the work force is employed, increased 1.9% over a year ago. Even in the depressed South, where almost 30% of the work force is employed, employment increased 0.6% above a year ago.Employment in the North and Central Regions has grown virtually steadily over the past five years while employment in the south has, more or less, stagnated. The first chart contrasts the trends in employment in the North and the South.

The unemployment rate for the country as a whole was 7.4%, the lowest rate during the period for which data are available (Fourth quarter of 1992 to date). In the North the unemployment rate was 4.1%, in the central region, 6.1% and in the depressed south region, 13.6%. This last figure is also the lowest rate during the period for which data are available and is down from a peak of 19.7% in the second quarter of 1988.

Industrial orders for April rose 6.8% in the month and were 15.5% above a year ago. The big rise took place in export orders which rose 15.6% in the month and were 29.0% above a year ago. The increases in domestic orders were more subdued, 2.2% and 8.7%, respectively. The second chart shows the indexes (2000=100) for domestic and export orders.

Industrial sales declined in April from March, but were 5.7% above April, 2005. Domestic sales were 4.6% and foreign sales, 8.2% above their respective April, 2005 values.

Italy Apr  06 Mar 05 Apr 05 M/M Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Industrial Orders (2000=100)  115.0 107.7 99.6 6.78 15.46 102.0 98.9 95.4
Domestic 105. 102.7 96.6 2.24 8.70 98.9 96.8 93.9
Foreign 137.5 119.0 106.6 15.55 25.99 111.6 103.6 98.7
Industrial Sales (2000=100)  112.8 115.0 106.7 -1.91 5.72 107.6 104.1 101.8
Domestic 110.9 112.8 106.0 -1.68 4.62 106.4 104.1 101.9
Foreign 117.7 120.8 108.8 -2.57 8.18 110.8 104.1 101.4 
Q1 06 Q4 05 Q1 05 Q/Q Y/Y 20 05 2004 2003
Employment (thousands) 22,814 22,598 22,549 0.96 1.18 22,571 22,404 22,240
North 11,687 11,601 11,546 0.74 1.22 11,591 11,433 11,364
Central 4,655 45-,594 4,567 1.32 1.93 4,577 4,539 4,424
South 6,472 6,403 6,436 1.08 0.56 6,414 6,431 6,452
Unemployment Rate 7.4 7.7 7.8 -0.3 -0.4 7.7 8.8 8.4
North 4.1 4.3 4.3 -0.2 -0.2 4.2 4.3 4.1
Central 6.1 6.6 6.3 -0.5 -0.2 6.4 6.5 6.9
South 13.6 14.0 14.5 -0.4 -0.9 14.3 14.9 16.1
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