Between Twitter and ISTAT: the data about work in the #postreferendum Italy

An overview on the ISTAT data on the labour market in Italy in the third quarter of 2016, and on the social conversations around the most debated issues of labor.

The publication of the ISTAT data on the labor market in Italy in the third quarter of 2016 was an opportunity to examine more closely this field of the social life of the country.
A topic around which the users of social networks animated many discussion. Here is the result of the Alkemy Lab’s analysis, conducted in collaboration with the Catchy team and published on the information website under the title "Tra Twitter e ISTAT: i dati sul lavoro nell’Italia del #postreferendum".

Right on time as usual, ISTAT has spread the report containing the data on the labor market in Italy for the third quarter of 2016. The data arrives in a period, after the constitutional referendum of December 4, particularly uncertain for the national political life.

The report is a snapshot of the labor market in the country and of the developments occurred between July and September in one of the areas that has been most affected by the reforms of the previous government, generating the interest of the media. Work is, indeed, a particularly hot topic, and each percentage point is open to interpretation, analysis and criticism.

Let's take a detailed overview on the data at local level, particularly as regards the employment, unemployment and inactivity rates. The report diffused by ISTAT in fact provides insight into the situation in each region, both applying the rates in total, both showing the data related to the gender.

It’s enough to glance at the color gradations of the map to get a confirmation that the definition of Italy as a "two-speed country" is not just a cliché.

The region that in the third quarter of 2016 has much increased the rate of unemployment is Sicily, with 21.9%, closely followed by Calabria with 21.7. These rates are almost twice the national average. Considering the gender, Calabria is the region with the highest rate of female unemployment, which stands at 25%, compared with 19.6% of men.

The exception is the Basilicata which with its 12% is confirmed as the southern region with the lowest unemployment rate. Trentino Alto Adige, however, is the region with the lowest data, with an unemployment rate at 4.2%.

Even the analysis of the spatial distribution of the employment rate highlights the strong geographical polarization, presenting at the antipodes Calabria with 39.7% of the employed and the Trentino Alto Adige with 71%.

As noted by the former Presidente del Consiglio, Matteo Renzi, even after the Jobs Act the differences between North and South continue to characterize the italian labor market. In this context, therefore, it is justified one of the last acts of the former government. The act is the insertion in the law of stability of the contribution reductions, such as those that were available with the Jobs Act for employees on permanent contracts in 2015 throughout Italy, but this time reserved to the new permanent hiring in the regions of the South.

It deserves a special attention the inactivity rate related to that segment of the population that does not work and is not looking for work. It’s its decline that caused in the past months a slight increase in both the employment and unemployment rates. There is therefore more people interested in finding a job.

Once again Calabria had the worst performance with a 49% inactivity rate, while considering the data divided by gender is Sicily that have the highest rate of women's inactivity: 63.5%. The differences between North and South remain, but for this indicator the separation appears less clear, with regions such as Lombardy, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia with rates between 30.2 and 31.4% well furthest from the 25, 9% recorded by the Trentino Alto Adige.

To test the tones of the discussion on social networks around these themes, it was examined Twitter, especially used to discuss current issues. Were therefore analyzed the conversations about work, employment and unemployment in relation to the term ISTAT, occurred in the period between October 23 and December 7, 2016.

Among the most used hashtags, over the general themes of research as #istat, #disoccupazione, #lavoro and #occupazione, it’s possible to note a large group of hashtags linked to the current political life of the country. The presence of #renzi leaves no doubt that many users put immediately in connection the data about the labor market with the government policies, and directly with the Prime minister. Even #passodopopasso refers to tweet that, stressing the positive sign of some data, highlight the growing trends in the national economy.

Also interesting is the presence of #cosedilavoro. The hashtag is used on Twitter to characterize the discussions on issues concerning the world of work in Italy, acquiring positive or negative connotations going from strictly informative tweet to tweet that comment ironically the political and economic situation.

It is to be highlighted also the presence of #jobsact among the most common hashtag. A topic closely related to the labor market, given that the labor reform launched by the Renzi government is one of the policies that generated the most criticism and debate, even on social networks.

In the discussions about #jobsact the prime minister and the government's policies are constantly reminded. After #jobsact, indeed, #Renzi is the most popular hashtag, confirming the high personalization taken by the discussions on the initiatives of the Government and the Prime Minister. the large presence of #matteorisponde goes in this direction, it is an hashtag born to create a direct link between Renzi and the people of the social networks.

#ART18, #buonascuola and #voucher evoke the reform of the Article 18 of the Statute of workers, the school reform and the vouchers, but the issue that in these weeks almost monopolized the debate is the constitutional referendum of December 4.

Either before the elections and after the polls closed, in the discussions about #jobsact the hashtags related to the referendum were widespread. Renzi bets on the Jobs Act as a consensus tool, but the results of the referendum confirmed that the choice was not successful, and the tweets are in line with this data. In the Twitter conversations about the Jobs Act #iovotono is the most widespread among the hashtags related to the referendum. In addition to the generic hashtags on referendum campaign as #referendumcostituzionale or #costituzione, along with #iovotono also appear #iodicono and #havintolademocrazia, this after the referendum is the most common among those who supported the reasons No.

Text, data 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