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LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

There is one bit of good news in Italy’s otherwise depressing job market

Reuters/Ciro De Luca
There’s (a tiny, teeny bit of) hope.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Italy’s labor market has definitely seen better days, with unemployment rising sharply during the euro zone financial crisis and showing few signs of coming back down any time soon. Once consistently below the EU average, Italy’s jobless rate is now among the highest on the continent:

Italy’s labor force participation rate remains almost 10 percentage points lower than the EU average, and hasn’t yet recovered from pre-crisis levels. But there are important nuances when you look at it by gender—men suffered more, according to employment rates, than women during the downturn.

The good news, such as it is, is that female labor-force participation has stayed steady despite Italy’s ongoing economic malaise:

Female participation is now (a bit) higher than it was 10 years—a small step for the job market overall but a huge one for Italian women. The country’s female labor participation rate is among the lowest in Europe:

Even more encouraging is the fact that between 2008 and 2013, there was an 18% increase in the number of women in executive roles in Italy, according to research by executive professional organization Manageritalia, together with research companies AstraResearch and JobPricing (links in Italian).

Somewhat surprisingly, the highest percentage of female executives in Italy can be found in the south, led by Molise and Calabria, at 25% and 21%, respectively. Lombardy, the business hub of Italy, is 17%, and Lazio, its administrative center, is just below 20%. Overall, only around 15% of executive positions across Italy are held by women, versus a European average of 25%. There is still much work left to do.

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