Italy records biggest wage drop in the EU amid pandemic downturn


Italy’s comparatively low pre-pandemic salaries are now even lower and ‘true’ unemployment figures higher, according to a new report. During the economic downturn induced by the Covid pandemic, the average Italian salary dropped more than any other EU country.

On average, Italian workers took home €1,724 less in 2020 than in 2019. This makes an overall drop of 5.8% in wages.

Italy was not the only country to register a drop, and the average EU salary also reduced, though by a much smaller 1.2%. The eurozone had a 1.6% drop in earnings.

Temporary and involuntary part-timers

Italy currently has around 3 million temporary workers and 2.7 million ‘involuntary’ part-timers. By involuntary part-timers, they mean workers whose hours are not part-time by choice.

Two-thirds of Italy’s workforce, 66.2%,  is employed as involuntary part-timers. This is the highest in Europe, where the eurozone average is 24.7%.  However, overall, the number of people employed part time in Italy and the number of hours they work is around the European average.

True unemployment figures

The institute also calculated what it claims are the ‘true’ figures of unemployment in Italy. Official figures state unemployment stood at 9.2% in 2020, while the institute calculated unemployment at 14.5%.

The percentage difference equates to 4 million more unemployed than the government’s 2.3 million; making the total out of work in Italy around the 6 million mark.

“It is clear that the issue of work concerns the quantity of employment but also many aspects of its quality,” the organisation’s president, Fulvio Fammoni, told reporters.

Low salaries and long hours in Italy

Italian part-time wages are also over 10% lower than the EU average. Even before the slump, in 2019 around five million people earned under €10,000 gross per year.  

Read: Foreign nationals unhappy with financial situation

Italy also records some of the longest working hours, while productivity lags behind the EU average.  

“It is clear that the issue of work concerns the quantity of employment but also many aspects of its quality,” the president of the organisation that created the report, Fulvio Fammoni, told reporters.

Referring to the government’s plans for the 2022 Budget, he indicated that the question should be how much these funds solve Italy’s fundamental problems, rather than simply how to use them up.

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