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Italy Jobless Rate Jumps to Record High of 11.7 Percent in January

Ian Cumming | Axiom Photographic Agency | Getty Images

Italy's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 11.7 percent in January from 11.3 percent the month before to hit its highest level for at least 21 years, data showed on Friday.

The figure was above all forecasts in a Reuters survey of analysts which pointed to a marginal uptick to 11.3 percent.

Rising unemployment was a major issue in the national election on Sunday and Monday which saw a dramatic surge in support for the anti-establishment 5-Star movement led by comic Beppe Grillo.

The election left Italy in political chaos, with no clear parliamentary majority emerging.

(Read More: Why Italy's Stalemate Could Mean Chaos for Euro Zone)

In a series of negative records showing that Italy's long recession is taking a heavy toll on the labor market, youth unemployment also jumped to an all-time high of 38.7 percent from 37.1 percent.

Both overall unemployment and youth unemployment were the highest since the current statistical series was begun in 1992.

The employment rate - showing the proportion of Italians in work as a proportion of the population - fell to 56.3 percent from 56.5 percent, to its lowest level for 13 years, national statistics institute ISTAT reported.

Analysts say the real challenge for Italy is to increase its chronically low rates of employment and participation in the labor market, which are among the lowest in the industrialized world, especially among women, the young and the elderly.

In January, 97,000 jobs were lost from the month before and 310,000 were lost compared with January the year before.

Contact Europe: Economy

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