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Southern Italy’s GDP turned positive in 2015 after 7 straight years in recession, ISTAT says

by Marzio Bartoloni

After 7 straight years of recession, the Mezzogiorno (Southern Italy) is finally growing again, and actually at a quicker pace than the rest of the country, as it rose 1% in 2015 against a national average of +0.8%.

Signs of recovery are also visible in the labor market, which has been heavily affected by the crisis: in Southern Italy the employment rate’s increase currently has a pace that is more than twice the national average (+1.5% against +0.6%). The industrial North East on the contrary saw numbers drop, while in Center weakness persists.

The data emerging from the preliminary estimates about the GDP and the employment rate made public last week by ISTAT also benefit from the bounce effect that was inevitable after the severe damage suffered by the South during the crisis.

The recovery, it would appear, as therefore been triggered by the South, that on its part has benefitted from the boom of agriculture (+7.3%) and the good performance of trade, restaurants and hotels, transport and telecommunications (+2.6%) and construction (+1.4%).

On the other hand, manufacturing is struggling and, according to ISTAT, it has registered “an irrelevant change, while financial, real estate and professional services are the only sector that registered a decrease (-0.6%).”

At sectorial level, the employment rate follows the trend of the GDP, marking in one year almost 100,000 more jobs. On the contrary, the negative result for the North East mostly depends on the decrease registered by construction (-4.2%) and commerce (-1.6%).

According to the Minister of Labor Giuliano Poletti, these figures “instill hope for the future of the country and now we want to improve them by continuing our reforming work.”

The labor unions recognize the step forward that has been made even though UIL (Italian Labor Union), headed by Guglielmo Loy, points out that “there is still a long way to go” considering the starting gap.