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Italy unemployment rate hits new record high in May

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Italy’s unemployment rate has risen to a new record high in May as the country is struggling with a recession-hit economy following implementation of tough austerity cuts.

The Rome-based national statistics office, Istat, said on Monday that the jobless rate rose to 12.2 percent in May from 12 percent in April, the highest since the institute started collecting data on Italy in 1977.

The eurozone’s third-largest economy dropped 27,000 jobs in May alone, with the unemployment rate remaining above 10 percent for 16 months.

This is while, the unemployment rate for people under the age of 25 reached 41.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, also reaching the highest level since 1977.

Tough austerity measures, spending cuts, and pension changes introduced by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government have stirred serious concerns among many people already grappling with the country’s ailing economy.

Italians have been staging protests against high unemployment, economic adversity and hardship over a series of government-imposed austerity packages in the recent past.

Italy started to experience recession after its economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011 and by 0.7 percent in the year’s fourth quarter.

The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.


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