Youth joblessness tops 40% in Italy

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Rome, Jan 31 (IANS/AKI) Italy's share of unemployed people aged 15 to 24 rose to 40.1 percent in December, up 0.2 percent from November while overall joblessness was unchanged at 12 percent, provisional data showed on Tuesday.

Youth joblessness increased 1.8 percent in December compared with the same month last year, while total unemployment nudged up an annual 0.4 percent, according to the figures released by Italy's central statistics agency Istat.

December joblessness is at an 18 month high. It compares to a median forecast for a monthly fall to 11.8 percent based on a Bloomberg survey of 13 analysts.

Italy is the only large European county where unemployment has risen in the past year and, coupled with chronically weak economic growth, the data will come as worrying news for the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

The country is expected to hold national elections this year and the anti-establishment Five-Star movement is currently neck-and-neck with the PD in opinion polls. Five-Star support is set to increase with rising joblessness as it draws its strongest support from the economically fragile sectors of the population.

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