YOUTH unemployment in Italy rose to an all time high above 37pc in November, data showed on Tuesday, piling pressure on outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti
who is seeking a second term at national elections in February.
Italy has been in a deep recession since the middle of 2011 and joblessness has risen steadily as businesses clamp down on staffing levels to cope with crumbling domestic demand.
The plight of the unemployed, particularly among the young, will be a crunch issue at the election and Monti, who heads a centrist group, is criticised by opponents on the left and right for hurting the economy in his efforts to fix public finances.
Headline unemployment was stable in November at October's record high of 11.1pc, statistics institute ISTAT reported. Joblessness rose above 11pc in October for the first time since 1999.
November's rate was marginally below a forecast of a further rise to 11.2pc in a Reuters survey of analysts, but it was up 1.8pc points from November 2011 when Monti was appointed to save Italy from a mounting debt crisis.
The youth unemployment rate, referring to 15-24 year-olds, jumped for the third month running to 37.1pc, its highest level since records began in 1992.
Companies are reluctant to give new recruits regular contracts because strong job protection means it is hard to fire them. So young people tend to move from one temporary contract to the next, and opportunities have dried up in the recession.
Monti sought to address the problem with a hotly contested labour reform passed last summer, but critics say that by making it more costly and complicated for firms to offer temporary contracts, the reform discouraged hiring in the recession.
"You always hope that if you put some effort in you will get something back," said 22-year-old Michele Andaloro as he lined up in search of work at one of Rome's largest job centres.
"The next government needs to work for the future of young people and not behave like in the past."