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Italy jobless rate falls below 10% for first time since 2012, as 67,000 jobs created


ROME, July 1 (Reuters) - Italy's unemployment rate fell to 9.9% in May, the lowest reading since February 2012, as some 67,000 jobs were created, data showed on Monday, in a boost for the anti-austerity government. A Reuters survey of analysts had forecast a jobless rate of 10.3%. National statistics bureau ISTAT revised down the jobless rate for May to 10.1% from a previously reported 10.2%. In the March-May period some 125,000 jobs were created compared with the previous three months, ISTAT said. Of these, 96,000 were permanent contracts. One of the first measures of the government of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League which took office a year ago was to pass measures aimed at curbing temporary hires and encouraging open-ended contracts. The so-called "dignity decree" took full effect in November last year. In May the youth unemployment rate, measuring job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, declined to 30.5% from 31.1%. Italy's overall employment rate, one of the lowest in the euro zone, rose in May to 59.0% from 58.9% in April, to reach its highest level since ISTAT's current series began in 1976. ISTAT gave the following data:

MAY APRIL MARCH FEBJOBLESS RATE 9.9 10.1r 10.1r 10.5YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE (15-24) 30.5 31.1r 30.3r 32.3rEMPLOYMENT RATE (15-64) 59.0 58.9r 58.9 58.6

r=revised (Reporting by Gavin Jones)