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Italy's crisis hits immigrants hardest

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Immigrants are being hit harder than Italians by the country's unemployment crisis, a new report showed Monday, saying the figures were "extremely worrying" and could lead to "major social destabilisation".

The report said the number of unemployed foreigners in the country was currently 385,000 -- up from 220,000 at the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008.

The unemployment rate among immigrants is 14.1 percent -- a 5.6-point increase from 2008. The national jobless rate is at a record high of 12.2 percent.

"The situation is going to get worse because of the crisis as job seekers increase over job places," said Antonio Marzano, the president of CNEL, a consultative body to the government that co-authored the report.

The report said the unemployment rate among immigrants in France had grown by 5.2 percentage points to 19.3 percent since 2008. In Spain, the figure is now 36.1 percent -- up by 20 points over the same period.

The report, also compiled by the ministry of labour, came amid a dispute over racist remarks by Roberto Calderoli, Senate vice-president, against Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, Italy's first black minister, whom he said resembled an orangutang.

The report also outlined the importance of immigrants in Italian society and said those who did work were often stuck in low-skill and low-pay jobs.

Without migrants, Italian demographic growth would be zero and the population would be ageing at a faster rate, according to the report.

The migrant population in 2012 was three times more than in 2002, reaching 7.9 percent of the population.

While 29 percent of foreign workers were employed in low-skill labour in 2008, the percentage went up to 34 percent in 2012.

The report also found that migrants are increasingly over-qualified for their jobs.

While only seven percent of foreign workers were under-employed in 2008, 10.7 percent were under-employed in 2012.

The wage differential between Italian and non-Italian workers also seems to be widening with time. The monthly wage of foreign workers in Italy is on average 968 euros ($1,260), while Italians earn on average 1,304 euros -- a third more.

Minister of Labour and Social Policy Enrico Giovannini explained that "because 50 percent of times jobs are found through personal acquaintances and contacts it is obvious that migrants are disadvantaged".

"More job centres should be provided by the government for this disadvantage to be diminished and to enhance the market's capability to match demand with supply," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130715/italys-crisis-hits-immigrants-hardest