And produce 9% of Italy’s GDP

The employment rate of foreigners is also higher than the national average as they are more likely to start new businesses. Today, Italy’s migrant workforce tops 5 million – 11% of the total population, which some economists equate this as being an important engine of growth for the economy.

In Emilia Romagna alone, there are over 500,000 migrants working in industries such as textiles, engineering, agriculture, fashion and design, technology fields including online businesses and of course, the much touted Italian food sector.


Road worker on Via Ugo Bassi

In December 2014, Bologna’s migrant population reached 57,979, of which 45% are Europeans. In the last ten years foreign residents have more than tripled and their impact on the total population amounted to 15.3%.

Considering Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, this trend in foreign employment is said to be it’s future salvation. And just as is happening in Germany right now, a migrant workforce is a key resource to be exploited rather than banished.

The overall figure from 2014 equates to 4.9 million people with particular emphasis on: Lombardy (1.1 million), Lazio (616,000), Emilia Romagna (534mila) and Veneto (514,000). Among non-EU nations, the most prevalent are Albanians (495,000), Moroccans (454,000), Chinese (256,000) and Filipinos (162,000). The statistics are supported by Istat, Caritas Migrantes, Unioncamere and the Leo Moressa Foundation.

According to the Leo Moressa Foundation, in 2014 foreigners have produced 8.8% of the national wealth, about 123 billion euro’s worth. Their 66% employment rate, which is higher than that of the natives is unique for Europe: Italians stand at 56.3%, non-EU residents at 56.6%, and EU a residents at 62.6%.

To put this into perspective the foreign workforce presence covers areas vacated by their Italian peers: 39.3% in personal services, 19% in hotels and restaurants, 18% in construction. In trained occupations, however, the presence of foreigners is still very low.

A spokesperson for Unioncamere explained that about 8.9% of the Italian production is composed of six million businesses. “It’s this impetus for entrepreneurship of foreigners residing in Italy that keeps a positive balance in Italian companies.” Therefore, in recent years without the competitiveness of foreigners Italian companies would be drastically reduced.


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