After a 2020 marked by forced closures and various obstacles to free initiative, this year is marking a partial recovery. In fact, the recent Istat data on the second quarter show an increase in the number of employed by around 1.5% (338 thousand more workers). Two thirds, however, only found a fixed-term contract. How can this be explained? First of all, these data suggest how difficult it is to return to the situation prior to the political measures adopted against the pandemic. Those who last year presented the lockdown as a simple temporary suspension of work activities, arguing that it would then return without problems to the previous situation, were giving easy illusions.
The reconstruction will be tough, not least because the crisis has strengthened the role of the state in the economy and increased debt and public spending. In addition to this, today we see with particular clarity how our labor law prevents that general reorganization of the productive forces that is needed. What has happened in the last 18 months has profoundly changed the scenario and now it would be essential for capital and people to be able to leave certain sectors and move to others. This, however, is really so difficult in a regulated society like the Italian one. In that sense, the high percentage of “fixed-term” employees can be easily explained.
Few companies offer permanent employment not only because the general context is very uncertain, but also because if it is almost impossible to lay off even when necessary (think of the long block we are only now getting out of), it is not surprising. when numerous companies appear reluctant to undertake such an onerous commitment. By making dismissal difficult, you end up discouraging you from hiring with stable contracts. How such policies ideally deployed in defense of the “place” are anti-social emerges with great evidence also from the detail of the Istat data. In fact, not only do the constraints that should protect workers end up hindering the creation of ordinary employment, but all this penalizes the weakest individuals the most.
Also in the second quarter, the growth in the employment rate was much greater among graduates than among high school graduates, and is much higher in the latter than in those who have only made the eighth grade. In the end it follows that the employment rate is 79.6% among graduates, 63.4% among high school graduates and it is very low (only 43%) among those who have only the middle school diploma. Not only do those who are less educated have more obstacles in front of them, but the same is true for women, young people and foreigners. If we take the employment levels prior to the pandemic, we must note that 678 thousand places are still missing. However, while the figure for males marks only -2.3%, much more negative is that of women (-3.7%). A similar difficulty is encountered by foreigners (who are down by -7.7% compared to a year ago) and young people. There is no doubt, in fact, that it is precisely the new generations who pay the higher price than what has happened, if you consider that 199,000 seats are still missing in this range. As always, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And in this case it must be recognized that a series of interventionist policies aimed at incorrectly protecting the weakest groups have penalized them, creating those rigidities that today hinder the recovery and the very fight against unemployment.