A worker at the Soccavo market in Naples, Italy | Photo: ANSA/US FRANCESCO ALESI PARALLELOZERO
A worker at the Soccavo market in Naples, Italy | Photo: ANSA/US FRANCESCO ALESI PARALLELOZERO

The number of migrants and refugees in Italy who have found work increased in 2021. However, the number of foreign households living below the poverty line also went up. That's according to a new government report.

The participation of migrants and refugees in Italy's labor market improved significantly in 2021 and is now close to pre-pandemic levels.

This was one of the key findings of the 12th edition of the annual report "Foreigners in the labor market in Italy", published by the Italian labor ministry on Monday (September 19).

The number of foreign workers in Italy last year was 2.3 million, or 10% of the total workforce, according to the report.

Foreigners were more affected by unemployment in the pandemic year 2020 than Italians, yet they also saw a stronger economic bounce back in 2021. The number of employed foreigners rose by 2.4% compared to 0.6% among Italians.

Among migrants and refugees, men more likely to find job

For foreigners living in Italy, the employment rate was 57.8% (58.3% among Italians), while unemployment stood at 14.4% (9% among Italians) and inactivity at 32.4% (35.9%).

Men were more likely to be employed than women both among Italians and foreigners -- but the gender gap was larger among non-Italians.

In 2021, a total of 71.7% of male foreigners aged 15 to 64 were employed, compared to 45.4% of their female peers. For Italians, those numbers were 66.6% and 49.9%, respectively.

Sectors with the highest number of foreign employees included agriculture (18% of the total workforce), construction (15.5%), and hotels and restaurants (15.3%).

The highest rate of foreign workers was recorded in "other collective and personal services": 34.3%.

Non-Italians often live below the poverty line

While the report found that employment increased for foreigners in Italy, it also recorded a rise in poverty among non-Italians.

32.4% of foreigners were living in absolute poverty in 2021 (up from 29.3% in 2020), while that number was only 7.2% for Italians (slightly down from 7.5% in 2020).

The percentage of foreigners in Italy (Stranieri) living in absolute poverty compared to Italians (Italiani) | Credit: Italian labor ministry
The percentage of foreigners in Italy (Stranieri) living in absolute poverty compared to Italians (Italiani) | Credit: Italian labor ministry


The families with foreigners, while representing only 9% of households in Italy, accounted for 31.3% of the total number of poor families last year.

Labor minister: Migrants more affected by economic crises

"The work of migrants is connected to Italy's fate, but with amplified sensitivity: more affected by crises but immediately reactive to recovery," Labor Minister Andrea Orlando commented.

He said that "the fight against inequality and pledge to protect the most vulnerable" must be pursued, adding that when too many families live below the poverty line, "the future of the entire country is on the line."

The full report can be found here (in Italian).

 

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