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Labor, permanent contracts on the decline

The end of full or reduced incentives caused term contracts to explode in 2017 and the number of permanent contracts to return to 2014.

In short, the Jobs Act, with the end of Article 18 and despite the end of Article 18, has exhausted its propulsive effects. Confirming what had emerged in last year’s quarterly surveys is the final joint employment note from Istat, Ministry of Labor Inps, Inail and Anpal.

After the growth in stable hiring in 2015 and 2016 driven by contribution incentives, in fact, permanent contracts in 2017 decrease and return to 2014 level: stable activations and conversions into stable employment relationships totaled 2,220,000, a 10.77 percent decrease from 2016 (2,488,000), a year in which there were still incentives, albeit reduced.

In contrast, in the fourth quarter of 2017, the number of fixed-term activations reached the highest level (1 million 891 thousand) in the historical series since the first quarter of 2011.

In contrast, the sum of activations and conversions to permanent status is the lowest value in the series ever since 2011 (519 thousand). A total of 2.336 million activations in the quarter and 2.262 million terminations (with a balance of +75 thousand positions).

Equally, the number of “on-call” or “intermittent” workers in the fourth quarter of 2017 continues to grow, putting it at +69.2 percent over the same quarter of 2016, an absolute increase of 89,000: rising from 128,000 to 217,000 in total. Although the increase is still “at slightly less strong rates” than in the previous two quarters (+79.3 percent in the third and 75.9 percent in the second) when the strong increase had begun following the repeal of vouchers. Similarly, the significant increase in the number of agency workers continues (+26.9% in the fourth quarter of 20179, trending upward since the second quarter of 2013, with a strong acceleration starting in the first quarter of 2017 (+22.5%) and confirmed in the second and third quarters of 2017 (+24.4% and +23.8%, respectively).

They mark an increase of 443 thousand salaried employment positions in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, based on the Ministry of Labor’s mandatory reports. Of these, 40 thousand are permanent (including apprenticeship), 403 thousand are fixed-term (including seasonal work). Compared to the previous quarter, the increase in salaried positions is 75 thousand, a summary of an increase of 108 thousand fixed-term positions and a decrease in permanent positions (-34 thousand).

On the positive side, however, the seasonally adjusted employment rate was 58.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, up a tenth of a point from the previous quarter. Looking at the last decade (2008-2017), the rate increases by nearly three percentage points from 55.4 percent, the lowest value in the third quarter of 2013, “continuing the trend of recovering to pre-crisis peak levels” (58.8 percent in the second quarter of 2008).