The world of work in Italy: from INPS data to the hashtags

A study on data released by the INPS Osservatorio sul Precariato can offer a framework about engage and dismiss in Italy in the first ten months of 2016.

The latest data released by INPS through the Osservatorio sul Precariato, updated to October 2016, allow to give an overview on the world of work in the country, in particular as regards the activation and termination of new contracts.

Alkemy Lab, within the DEEP project, worked together with the Catchy team to provide a focus on the topic. The article "Il mondo del lavoro in Italia: dai dati INPS agli hashtag", published on the information website riotta.it highlights what is possible to read "beyond" the data, deepening the issue of the employment contracts activated with the reductions in contributions and giving a look at the Twitter conversations around these issues.


The INPS, through the Osservatorio sul precariato, has published data on labor relations in Italy updated to October 2016. The press release that is included with the release of the data shows a positive balance between new hires and terminations in the first ten months of 2016, with 497,000 new jobs.

The report, however, contain many other information about what happened in the labor market from January to October. Data on the amount of started contracts, limited in time and permanent, seasonal and in apprenticeship, and even the terminations, the transformation of labor relations and the wage classes. The relevant issues would be many, but it is interesting to focus attention on a specific type which is often the subject of discussion and analysis: the permanent contracts.

In the first ten months of 2016 have been started in Italy more than a million contract. A considerable amount, but lower than that recorded in the same months of last year, when the contracts activated in Italy were 1,534,605. The number of 2016 is therefore 32% lower compared to 2015.

This seems quite clear, but what happens when we observe these events at the local level? Umbria is the region most affected by the decline, with a 42.8% of permanent contracts less than the previous year. Sicily instead has the lowest variation with a -26.4%.

Why this difference? There are many variables that can explain this situation, but the most effective is related to the use of reductions in contributions. Provided by the “Stability law” 190/2014, the subsidies had led in 2015 to a significant increase in the number of permanent contracts, with 46.9% more contracts than in 2014. In the period between January and October 2015, especially, were recorded in Italy 809,858 new hires realized with the request for contribution reduction.

The incentives have also been renewed for 2016 with the Law 208/2015, but contracts with subsidies activated in this year at national level are 323,364, thus 60.1% less than last year.

At the territorial level, in this case, it is possible instead to note that the percentage variation, of recruitment with subsidies of the first ten months of 2015 over those of 2016 was higher in the North than in the South, even if in a context of general decline. Umbria is the region with the greatest variation with -67.9% of new contracts, followed by Tuscany with a -65.4% and Lombardy and Friuli Venezia Giulia with -65%. In the South the use of incentives is still declining but resists a bit more, with Sicily having the lowest variation with a -47.5%.

Not all the negative percentages, however, are alarming. In the period from January to October 2016, even terminations of permanent labor relations have recorded lower numbers compared to the same period last year. At the national level terminations recorded in 2016 were 7.2% lower, with strong differences on the territory, going from -0.1% in Veneto, where terminations were in line with the numbers of 2015, to Molise where terminations decreased by 21%.

The reductions in contributions, as provided by the previous government, are also planned for 2017 but only for the southern regions. From what emerged from the data, then, many companies have used them during 2015, fewer during 2016. The question of precariousness is however still present in the country and strongly emerges not only from the official statistics, but also through the new privileged places for discussion: the social networks.

To explore what and how the social networks discuss about work and precariousness, on Twitter, for example, were examined users' conversations occurred between October 21 and December 19, 2016.

The hashtags of the analyzed tweets are heterogeneous, but in addition to those relating to general discussions (as #lavoro or #precariato) is possible to identify some categories. Firstly the hashtags on specific areas of work, as #pa and #lavoropubblico for public administration, but also specific types generally associated with precariousness, as #callcenter, #partitaiva, #voucher. Another hashtag group regards the politics. #renzi is one of the most present hashtags in the conversations about work and precariousness. #bastaunsi and #iovotono, instead, testify the connection made by many users with the constitutional referendum on last December 4.

In addition, references to the main reforms and to particularly discussed government intervention are present in the various tweets. #jobsact it is the most popular hashtag after the general ones, confirming the debate never vanished around the labour reform realized by the Renzi Government. In this group also figures #labuonascuola, the school reform that did so much to talk about himself, and #politicheattive, with reference to the interventions in support of vulnerable categories in the labor market. Last group of threads is the one that brings together the hashtag “for protest". #diritti, #eorailcontratto, #contrattosubito, are used in tweets regarding the renewal of the contract of metalworkers and of the public sector. These hashtags are also very used by the account of the labor Unions which have carried on the negotiations about the new contracts.

Is possible also to obtain interesting information by analyzing the trend of discussions in the past weeks around two aspects related to the topic of work: hirings and layoff. The discussions on social networks ever are affected by the current issues, and give a realistic insight into what are the most discussed topics among users in their circles of contacts.

Among the conversations around the theme of hirings analyzed between November 11 and December 19, emerge over the other those related to the world of school and its reforms. #idoneifantasma for example is used by those who passed the competitive exam but did not get the job. #abilitatitfa, #tfaèconcorso and #doppiocanale, are hashtags posted by users who are pushing for the recognition of the opportunity to teach even to the enabled in the TFA. The last few weeks there was instead an increase in the use of #8000esiliatifaseb, used by teachers who were called to teach in places far from their home region.

In the conversations around the keyword “hirings”, is decreasing the use of the hashtag #jobsact, whose use is growing significantly in conversations about the other theme examined: layoffs. Among the hashtags used in relation to this issue, in fact, #jobsact reached, during the previous week to December 19, the first position. A signal that in the tweets the issue of layoffs is often linked with the labor reform enacted by the Renzi government.

On this front are also increasing the references to the issue of the call center #almaviva, a company that in these days is at the center of the discussions for the feared loss of jobs.

Once again social networks confirmed themselves as "digital squares", where the discontent or the political passions are often expressed on issues that have less space on traditional media, as in the case of the enabled TFA or in the one public employment. As already shown in past occasions social networks are spaces for discussion that reveal particular perceptions and connections between different themes, providing a path for the description of a widespread perception, always alive even if hidden in the mysteries of the discussions on the net.

Text, bigdata analysis and graphics edited by Lorenzo Coscarella and Nicola Piras, implemented under the DEEP project of Alkemy Lab, in collaboration with Catchy, Francesco Nespoli and Kode Solutions.