Rome, March 13 - Unemployment in southern Italy was almost triple that in northern Italy in 2017, ISTAT said Tuesday. In the poorer Mezzogiorno the rate was 19.4% compared to 6.9% in the more affluent north. The southern rate was also around double the rate in central Italy, 10.00%, the statistics agency said. Italy's overall average jobless rate in 2017 was 11.2%, down from 11.7% in 2016, ISTAT said on Tuesday. The national statistics agency said the third consecutive yearly fall had taken the unemployment rate down to the lowest level since 2013. It said the number of people looking for work dropped by 105,000 last year. Italy's employment rate climbed for the fourth consecutive year in 2017, with a rise of 265,000 people in work taking it up to 58%, ISTAT said. The agency said this was the highest level since 2009. It added, however, that it was still 0.7 of a percentage below the peak reached at the start of the economic crisis in 2008. It said 23.23 million people were in work in Italy last year.