According to a report released by the Italian national statistics institute (ISTAT) millions of Italians have or are close to falling below the poverty line.
The report says that millions of people in the economically ravaged nation can no longer to afford to heat their homes, eat properly or buy meat as they struggle to survive in a nation that has been devastated by the Euro crisis created recession and a spiralling rate of unemployment.
Up to a quarter of all of Italy’s population, 14.9 million people are living in families that meet three or more of ISTAT’s poverty indicators. Youth unemployment across the nation is now the worst in Europe with 23.9% unable to find work, that’s one-in three people aged between 15 and 29.
The percentage of people in families who could not afford to eat a protein-based meal such as meat every two days rose to 16.6% in 2012 from 12.4% the previous year and 6.7% in 2010. The report goes on to say that the number of people living in seriously deprived families has doubled in the past two years alone, soaring to 8.6 million, or around 14% of the country’s entire population.
The purchasing power of Italians has also seen a huge decline. Last year alone it fell by 4.8%, an ‘exceptionally steep’ decline caused by the aggressive tax hikes imposed by the government and the EU backed austerity measures that have crippled the economies of Spain, Greece and Portugal.
The report highlights the challenges faced by the new government of Enrico Letta. The new Prime Minister has sworn to boost growth in the country and has called on the wider European Union to tackle the growing crisis in youth unemployment across the region.
The Euro meanwhile has strengthened against the Pound and US Dollar after retail sales declined in the UK and as the markets await the outcome of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s key speech to congress. Bernanke’s testimony, which is due around 3pm GMT, is being hailed as critical for setting a renewed tone in the currency market. Economists are expecting the Fed Chairman to commit to continue with buying bonds in an attempt to boost growth.
Current Euro (EUR) Exchange Rates
The Euro/US Dollar Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 1.2946
The Euro/Pound Sterling Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 0.8572
The Euro/Australian Dollar Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 1.3256
The Euro/ New Zealand Dollar Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 1.5914
The US Dollar/Euro Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 0.7730
The Pound Sterling /Euro Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 1.1665
The Australian Dollar/Euro Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 0.7548
The New Zealand Dollar/Euro Exchange Rate is currently in the region of: 0.6334
(Correct as of 12:45pm GMT)