Italy Aug jobless rate edges down to 9.7% as labour market recovers from Covid lockdown

ROME, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Italy’s unemployment rate fell marginally to 9.7% in August and 83.000 jobs were created from the month before, data showed on Thursday, as the labour market continued to recover after a coronavirus lockdown.

A Reuters survey of six analysts had forecast a jobless rate of 10.1%. National statistics bureau ISTAT revised July’s figure to 9.8% from a previously reported 9.7%.

The government’s lockdown measures in the spring aimed at containing COVID-19 infections brought the economy to its knees, with most firms shuttered throughout March and April.

The official jobless rate plunged in those two months, as people stopped looking for work, and hit a multi-year low of 7.4% in April before rising in the following months as Italians returned to the labour market.

Only people actively looking for a job count towards the unemployment rate.

ISTAT said all age groups and both sexes contributed to the 83,000 jobs created in August, pushing up the employment rate by around 0.2 percentage points.

However, the number of people in work was still some 350,000 fewer than in February, before the lockdown.

In the June-to-August period employment was down by 56,000 compared with the three months from March to May, ISTAT said.

In August, the youth unemployment rate, measuring job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, rose to 32.1% from an upwardly revised (31.8%) the month before -- hitting the highest level since November 2018. The July figure had previously been given as 31.1%.

Italy’s overall employment rate, one of the lowest in the euro zone, rose in August to 58.1% from 57.8% in July. Highlighting the devastating impact of the coronavirus on the economy, Italy’s gross domestic product shrank a record 12.8% in the second quarter from the previous three months after contracting 5.5% in the first quarter.

While growth is expected to return over the second half of the year the government still sees a full year GDP fall of 9%.

ISTAT gave the following data:

AUG JULY JUNE MAY JOBLESS RATE 9.7 9.8r 9.4r 8.7r YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE (15-24) 32.1 31.8r 30.4r 28.9r EMPLOYMENT RATE (15-64) 58.1 57.8 57.6 57.7r r=revised

Reporting by Gavin Jones