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The employment of Italian women lags behind men and remains at the bottom of the EU rankings, highlighting the challenges faced by the country’s first female leader.

The employment rate for men rose 1.7 percentage points on the year to 69.5% in October but for women it increased at a slower rate of 1.4 percentage points to 51.4 %.

Nicola Nobile, economist at consulting firm Oxford Economics, said: “The lack of family-friendly policies, low career expectations, weak growth and high wage disparities have greatly hampered growth. women’s participation.

He added that the reform could have a significant impact on long-term growth. Italy’s economic output has almost stagnated for more than two decades.

However, the unemployment numbers released on Thursday surprised investors. The rate in the eurozone’s third-largest economy extended its decline to 7.8 percent in October from 7.9 percent the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday. Economists had forecast an increase of 8 percent.

Bar chart of difference with EU average, % points, 2nd quarter 2022, aged 20 to 64 shows Italy has the lowest rate of female employment in the EU

The employment rate for women in Italy is the lowest of any other EU country and 20 percentage points lower than in Germany. An even larger gap has opened compared to the rates in the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. This is the lowest of any other advanced economy.

The difference between men and women in the labor force is more than double the euro area average.

Right-wing Giorgia Meloni took office in October but she has failed to spark hopes of a change of direction.

Carlo Bonomi, leader of the Italian industry federation, criticized the annual national budget for its lack of “vision”, including the addition of measures to promote women’s participation in the workforce. .

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