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12th Annual Report on Foreigners in the Labor Market in Italy

Migrant labor on the upswing, but poverty grows

After the crisis caused by Covid-19, migrant labor market participation in Italy improves, approaching pre-pandemic levels. Increasing, however, are the households of foreigners living below the poverty line.

This is the light dark reading proposed by the 12th Annual Report on Foreigners in the Labor Market in Italy, published Sept. 19 by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (here a summary), which presents and analyzes data for 2021.

There are 2.3 million foreign employed, 10 percent of the total employed. The employment rate is at 57.8 percent (58.3 percent that of Italians), unemployment at 14.4 percent (9 percent among Italians), inactivity at 32.4 percent (35.9 percent), but the indicators worsen significantly when referring only to women. Sectors with the highest incidence of foreign employment include Agriculture (18.0 percent of total employment), Construction (15.5 percent) and Hotels and Restaurants (15.3 percent). However, it is in Other collective and personal services that the share of foreign workers is highest: 34.3 percent.

After suffering more than Italians in 2020 from the impact of the pandemic, migrant workers performed better last year, with 2.4 percent growth in employment (compared to 0.6 percent recorded among Italians). The shift from the labor force to inactivity recorded in 2020 is not confirmed; instead, a reversal is observed in 2021, with +11.9 percent of foreigners seeking employment (vs. +1.3 percent of Italians) and -5.7 percent of foreigners inactive (vs. -3.1 percent of Italians).

Worsening, however, are the poverty figures, as shown in an in-depth study edited by Istat for its 12th Annual Report. 30.6 percent of foreign-only households (a figure up nearly 4 points from 2020) are in a state of absolute poverty, compared with 5.7 percent (a stable figure) recorded among Italian-only households. Households with foreigners, while accounting for only 9 percent of households in Italy, weigh 31.3 percent of total poor households.

The report "Foreigners in the Labor Market in Italy" 2022 is edited by the General Directorate of Immigration and Integration Policies of the MLPS, with the support of Anpal Servizi, in collaboration with the General Directorate of Information Systems, Technological Innovation, Data Monitoring and Communication, lNAIL, Unioncamere and OECD. In addition to the full version and summary, a statistical dashboard with data on hires, terminations, employed and unemployed is available online.