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Reduced feeling of financial strain in Italy

News   •   Jun 02, 2021 11:00 BST

The most recent figures for Italy on the financial situation is in line with the EU average of 22.1% and marks a positive development, one which occurred in just six other EU Member States (Croatia, Spain, Romania, Denmark, Sweden and France).

Pessimism about one’s future financial situation has decreased in Italy compared to summer 2020, according to Eurofound’s large-scale Living, working and COVID-19 online survey. In February 2021, over one fifth (22.5%) of people in Italy expected a worsening of their situation compared to 27.6% in June/July of last year. The most recent figure is in line with the EU average of 23.2% and marks a positive development, one which occurred in just seven other EU Member States (Croatia, Spain, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, France and Germany).

The third round of the unique pan-EU survey was fielded in February and March 2021 and the analysis provided in the report and background data for the latest round is based on a sample of 46,800 responses, and an overall sample of 138,629 across all three rounds. It sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe following nearly a full year of living with COVID-19 restrictions.

A similar cautiously optimistic pattern is also reported in people’s assessment of their financial situation over the past three months. In early 2021, 23.6% of respondents from Italy indicated their financial situation had worsened, whereas this figure was at 32.8% in June/July of last year and 45.2% at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in March/April 2020.

Early in the pandemic, almost half (49.6%) of the respondents in Italy signalled difficulties in making ends meet, which was slightly above the EU average of 46.8% at the time. While the EU’s average remained relatively consistent (46.9%) in early 2021, the figure decreased to 39.2% in Italy. Additionally, other financial precariousness indicators, such as arrears in rent/mortgage payments or utility bills, have improved for Italy and paint a somewhat mended picture for the country.

Eurofound’s working life country profile for Italy reports that in order to combat labour market and economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, the country introduced income support for self-employed people and domestic workers, a short-time work scheme and a ban on dismissals. Nevertheless, it also notes that the social and economic impacts of the pandemic were reduced, but it was not possible to completely mitigate its effects, with the uneven distribution of the negative socioeconomic impacts a particular area of concern. Unemployment and inactivity grew in the most vulnerable segments of the labour market, particularly among women, and young people, who perform the largest share of temporary and non-standard jobs. The pandemic also had an uneven sectoral impact, with tourism and hospitality, bars and restaurants, arts and entertainment, retail and personal services among the most affected economic activities.

Italy recorded a significant increase in telework in response to the pandemic, with one of the highest teleworking rates at the beginning of the crisis (47%), but also recording the second largest decrease in telework as the economy began to reopen in spring 2021. According to the Living, working and COVID-19 online survey, around a quarter of respondents (26%) were working from home in February and March 2021 compared to 42.2% in the EU as a whole.

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