08 Gennaio 2016
Rome, January 8 - Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan on Friday hailed the latest good data on household income and unemployment, saying they were fresh signs that Italy's economic recovery is gathering pace thanks to the government's structural reforms. But consumer groups said the figures from national statistics bureau Istat were too good to be true and people were still suffering. Padoan said on Twitter that "incomes are rising, unemployment is falling; structural reforms are working, Italy is using #flexibility well", in hailing the latest set of Istat data. On Thursday Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem urged Italy not to "exaggerate" in using flexibility, and not to ask for it for multiple purposes. Istat reported Friday that household income was 1.5% up in the last year, and on Thursday said unemployment was down to a three-year low of 11.3% in November. Italian household spending rose 0.4% in the third quarter of 2015 over the previous quarter and by 1.2% compared to the same quarter in 2014, Istat also said. Moreover, Istat reported that the purchasing power of Italian households rose 1.3% in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter of 2014, the biggest rise since the second quarter of 2007, Istat said Friday. Purchasing power was up 1.4% in the third quarter over the second quarter, the statistics agency said. The gross savings rate in consumer households reached 9.5% in the third quarter, representing a 0.3% increase on the same quarter in 2014 and a 0.9% increase on the second quarter of 2015. As well, Istat said house prices rose 0.2% in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter, the first rise in four years. Prices were down 2.3% year-on-year, however. Consumer groups disagreed with Padoan's enthusiasm, saying Istat's figures are "too good to be true" and are "still excessively optimistic". The comments from Federconsumatori and Adusbef came after Padoan and other construed the figures as the latest evidence suggesting the Italian economy is revving up after a sluggish emergence from a long recession. "The situation that families present daily at our windows is still dramatic," said Federconsumatori President Rosario Trefiletti and Adusbef President Elio Lannutti. They cited a reduction in purchasing power - "down 13.4% since 2008" - and a 10.7% decline in purchases between 2012-2014, "with a combined spending reduction of around 78 billion euros". "It's clear that the recovery must be much more decisive, marked, structural - a recovery that can only be obtained by healing the real plague afflicting the country: the lack of jobs, and thereby activating income redistribution".
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