Migrants, over 1 million hired in 2023: historic record

In 2022 in Italy foreigners represent 10.8% of the workforce between 15 and 64 years old, 10.4% of the employed and 15.9% of the unemployed

The 2023 marked the historical record of migrant hiring in Italy. The hiring of immigrant staff planned by Italian companies amounted to 1,057,620 people (source Unioncamere – Anpal). This is highlighted by the XXIX Migration Report 2023, developed by the Ismu Ets Foundation and presented today in Milan. “The importation of workforce from abroad – highlights the Report – is therefore emerging as an option shared by many European countries, despite a political framework dominated by the concern to reduce irregular migratory pressure and manage the flows of applicants asylum”.

In the 2022 in Italy foreigners represent 10.8% of the workforce between 15 and 64 years old, 10.4% of the employed and 15.9% of the unemployed. From a sectoral point of view, the sector with the highest incidence of foreigners on the total employed is that of personal and collective services (31.6%), followed at a distance by agriculture (17.7%), catering and tourism (17 .3%), construction (15.6%). In 2022, for non-EU workers employed on a permanent basis the average annual salary was equal to 19,251 euros, that of the total workers was equal to 27,523 euros. For fixed-term employees, for non-Europeans it was equal to 9,508 euros, i.e. 8.3% lower than that of the total workers (10,365 euros).

It is above all women who are penalized: in 2022 the female employment rates of non-EU women are much lower than those of Italians (43.7% vs. 51.5%). Instead, within the population coming from EU countries, female employment rates are higher than those of Italians. Particularly involved in the phenomenon of inactivity are women from Bangladesh (92.3%), Pakistan (89.8%) and Egypt (85.1%). The most affected by unemployment are Egyptians (68.5% in 2022).

Compared to other countries – explains the Report – Italy attracts poorly educated immigration: Half of foreign-born immigrants have little formal education and only 12% have a college degree, compared to 20% of natives. Despite this, the share of foreign graduate workers employed in a low or medium skill profession is equal to 60.2% in the case of non-EU citizens and 42.5% in the case of EU citizens, compared to the 19.3% estimated for Italians. According to the ISMU Foundation, the lack of recognition of qualifications acquired abroad is a factor: less than 3% of foreigners have a foreign qualification recognized in Italy.

According to data from an ad hoc Istat study (2023a) discussed in the Report, the problem of overqualification is also affected by factors linked to citizenship – Italian by birth, foreign or Italian by acquisition – and gender. For example, the advantage of having a degree, compared to a middle school diploma, is around 40 percentage points in terms of employment rate among Italians from birth, it is almost halved among naturalized people and falls below 9 points among foreigners. Among women, having a degree improves the employment rate by 51 points among natives, by 29 points among naturalized women and by only 17 points among foreigners. For those with at most a middle school diploma, the employment rate of foreigners is higher than that of natives and naturalized people.