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Almost Half of Italy’s Labor Force Are Idled by Shutdown of Economic Activity

June 16, 2020 (EIRNS)—Between one-third and one-half of Italy’s labor force has become inactive due to the shutdown of economic activities, and many of them will never go back to work, if there is not a strong economic recovery in the immediate period ahead. The estimate is based on official figures about short-work and unemployment; the latter, however, is underestimated.

Short-work checks beneficiaries are officially 6.75 million in Italy. This figure includes regular “Cassa Integrazione” checks, as well as extraordinary ones and so-called “ordinary check for the COVID emergency”—the latter covering categories which are not covered by the Cassa Integrazione scheme (trade, services, agriculture). The data come from the national welfare agency INPS, which is the single payer for all those measures.

(Cassa Integrazione is a scheme by which short- to zero-work hours are paid with a monthly check amounting to a percentage of the regular check. Workers in Cassa Integrazione are formally still employed by the firm.)

Official unemployment was at around 10% before the lockdown. During the lockdown, half a million people have dropped from the unemployment statistics, simply because they stopped to look for a job. If we double the official figures and add them to the 6.75 million above, we come to around 10-11 million people who are currently inactive.

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