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According to the latest figures published by the Statistics Institute of Italy (ISTAT), the country's unemployment has risen in the second quarter of 2009.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment was up to 7.4% from 7.3% in the previous quarter. This is the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2005.
The increase in unemployment was less than expected but ISTAT said that "unemployment is going up slowly because large numbers of Italians have given up the search for jobs altogether and therefore no longer count as unemployed, especially in the South of the country."
The employer's association 'Confindustria' estimates that 1 million jobs will have been lost in the two years ending in the first quarter of 2010.
ISTAT added that "the number of workers in large and medium-sized firms temporarily sent home on reduced pay under the 'Cassa Integrazione' scheme but still officially employed was up by 600% to 341,000 workers compared to the previous year.
Temporary employees and employees of small firms have no such safety net and are considered the most vulnerable to the economic recession.
The employment rate in the second quarter was down to 57.9% compared to 59.2% in the same period of last year.