Danilo Toninelli, Italian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, made a number of claims the 30th April of 2019 referring to different economic aspects. First, that employment rates are the highest since April 2008. Second, that unemployment has fallen 0.4 points. Third, that unemployment among young people is the lowest in Italy since 2011, and fourth, that Italy’s GDP data shows the country is ‘starting up again’.
Employment rates are the highest since April 2008
The employment rate is the ratio between the total population of working age and the population in employment. Population of working age is something Eurostat defines as people in the age range 20-64. According to statistics from Eurostat, we can see that employment rates have been steadily increasing since 2000, reaching a small peak of 62,9 percent in 2008. After this peak, the employment rates dropped the years after the financial crisis. In 2013, the employment rates started to rise again reaching a new peak level 2018 of 63 percent. This makes this first part of Danilo Toninelli’s statement true
Source for both figures: Eurostat
Worth noting is that the EU average of employment rate lies at 73,2 percent, meaning that Italy is still far behind other member states. The only country with a current employment rate lower than Italy’s is Greece with 59,5 percent.
Unemployment Falling 0.4 points
This is hard to fact check, as Toninelli does not give a time frame in this claim. In the last month, unemployment in Italy has fallen 0.3 points, but over the past six months, the rate has fallen 0.4 points. This statistic is slightly misleading on its own, as six months ago, in October 2018, unemployment spiked 0.3 from the month before. If Toninelli is looking at a six month period, then this part of his claim is TRUE.
Youth unemployment lowest since 2011
Toninelli tweets specifically about youth unemployment and how this has been as its lowest since 2011. As the United Nations agreed for statistical consistency, youth is defined as the people between the ages of 15-24. This is also what Eurostat defines as a youth. According to Eurostat, the youth unemployment (people with less than 25 years of age) is in fact at its lowest since 2011 in Italy. At that point, youth unemployment rates lied at 29,2 percent. Since 2011, youth unemployment steadily rose until reaching a peak in 2014 at around 43 percent. Since then, the youth unemployment has steadily declined and is currently at a rate of 30,2 percent (according to Istat, the Italian National Institute of Statistic).
Source for both figures: Young.Stat
Nonetheless, this is still a higher youth unemployment rate than what was displayed before 2011. In 2007 Italy displayed youth unemployment rates of around 20 percent. Hence, the choice of 2011 as a reference point might be questionable. The statement in the tweet is however true.
Italy still has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the EU, with only Spain and Greece displaying higher numbers.
PIL (Prodotto Interno Lordo) otherwise known as GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
Gross Domestic Product refers to the total value of everything produced in the country, in a given period. It doesn’t matter if the producers are citizens or foreigners, as long as it’s produced in the country.
According to the Italian Institute of Statistic the GDP has increased by 0.2 percent in comparison to the previous quarter and by 0.1 per cent over the same quarter of previous year. With quarter we refer to a three month period that is used in financial activities. Quarter refers to one-fourth of a year, meaning:
➔ 1st Quarter: January, February, March
➔ 2nd Quarter: April, May, June
➔ 3rd Quarter: July, August, September
➔ 4th Quarter: October, November, December
For the moment, the annual GDP growth for 2019 is equal to 0.1%. We can see there is a small growth in the GDP. Therefore, the claim in itself is true.
However, this minor change in GDP can be defined as too small to actually call it a growing trend. One could argue that the growth must grow to a larger extent and persist over a longer period of time in order to be defined as true growth, and much more to actually prove that the country is starting up again.
We can conclude that the choices of reference years in the first and third part of the claim are quite misleading. Both the years 2008 and 2011 have been chosen to support Toninelli’s point that the country is in fact starting up again. If other years would have been chosen, this trend could in fact be disproven. The second part of the claim is true if you look at the most recent numbers, but there is no reference to a period of time in the claim, making it highly questionable. In the fourth part of the tweet, the actual GDP growth might be too small to actually determine that the country is starting up again.
In isolation, each of the individual claims and statistics in the tweet by Italian minister Danilo Toninelli are true. But the choice of reference points in these statistics make them questionable. Therefore, we have chosen to define the claim as mostly true.
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RESEARCH | ARTICLE | These fact checks were produced for the 2019 edition of euroviews.eu, IDENTECO. Travelling to three corners of the European continent; Northern Ireland, Italy and Serbia, the mission of this student magazine is to help you identify your Europe.
The reporters form part the Europe in the World class, a one year advanced journalism programme with a focus on foreign reporting that takes place at the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX).