Italy Youth Unemployment Hits Record 40.5%

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Arturo Rodriguez

Italy's overall jobless rate and youth unemployment edged up in April to the highest levels on record, data showed on Friday.

Unemployment rose to 12.0 percent from an upwardly revised 11.9 percent in March, statistics office ISTAT said. The youth jobless rate increased to 40.5 percent from 40.3 percent the month before.

Both figures were the highest since records began in 1977.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who came to power in April after two months of political deadlock, has made tackling unemployment a priority and pushed for it to be a central theme at a European Union Council meeting in June.

April's overall unemployment figure was above the median forecast of 11.6 percent in a Reuters survey.

Analysts say a major 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.

The employment rate fell to 56.0 percent in April from 56.1 percent in March, ISTAT said.