Foreign mothers in Italy breastfeeding | Photo: ANSA/Claudio Peri
Foreign mothers in Italy breastfeeding | Photo: ANSA/Claudio Peri

There were 6,222,000 foreigners residing in Italy as of January 1, 2019, according to a new report. The total population of Italy was 60,360,000. That means that roughly one in ten residents in Italy is a foreigner.

The figures are part of the 25th Italian Report on Migrations 2019, released by the ISMU Foundation (Initiatives and Studies on Multiethnicity). They were presented on December 3 at the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. 

The number of foreigners in Italy at the beginning of 2019 increased by 1.9%, compared to a year before. This was mostly due to an increase in irregular migrants -- the number of migrants without papers increased by 5.4%, to 562,000 people. 

While Italy did see an increase in foreign residents from 2018 to 2019, the migrant population growth was much smaller than in previous years. In 2017, the migrant population grew by 8.6%; in 2016, the increase was 12.9%. 

84% of all migrants in Italy are regularly registered with the city registry, roughly 7% are in the country legally but not registered with the city registry, and 9% don't have a valid stay permit. 

242,000 new stay permits in 2018 

A total of 242,000 new stay permits were issued in 2018, which was 8% less than in 2017. 

The drop was due to a decrease in permits for asylum or humanitarian reasons. However, stay permits increased for work, study, and family. 

The number of women who arrived in Italy was higher in 2018 compared to 2017. 45% of new foreigners in Italy were women in 2018, compared to 39% in 2017. 

The number of foreign students increased in the 2017-2018 school year, growing by 15,000 people. At the same time, the number of Italian students continued to decline, with a drop of 93,000. The total number of foreign students enrolled in the 2017-2018 school year was 842,000, which is 9.7% of the total enrollment in Italian schools, from preschool to high school. 

Foreigners and work 

The foreign working-age population (between 15 and 64 years old) in Italy in 2018 reached four million. 2,455,000 of them were employed, over 32,000 more than the previous year. 
Foreigners made up 10.2% of the working-age population, 10.6% of the employed population, and 14.5% of the unemployed population. 

The unemployment rate was higher among foreigners (14%) than among Italians (10.2%). In 2018, non-EU workers earned 13,992 euros on average. That was 35% less than than the average wage. 

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