The number of people who are living in poverty in Italy has doubled since 2012. Over a million Italians are unable to afford to eat meat or pay for basic necessities such as heating for their houses. It is estimated that poverty in Italy is higher than it has ever been within the last 16 years.

Relative poverty is considered a family of two members living on a monthly salary of 991 euros or less. Approximately, 12.7 percent of families are living at relative poverty standards.

About eight percent of the Italian population is living in total poverty and unable to meet the minimum acceptable standard of living, according to the National Institute for Statistics (ISTAT).

“It is a reminder, if one were needed, of the severity and scale of Italy’s recession, the longest since the Second World War. Italy maybe the comeback kid of the global sovereign debt markets, but its economy does not look as though it will ever come back – and it was not even strong to start,” said Nicholas Spiro, head of Spiro Sovereign Strategy about ISTAT’s report.

The recession is taking a massive toll, currently plunging approximately 40 percent of Italian youth into unemployment.

Currently, Italy’s rate of unemployment and the amount of young people without education is the highest in Europe since the 1970s, totaling 23.9 percent. This means that one third of people ages 15-29 are either without education or without a job.

Only 58 percent of those who have graduated from college are able to find jobs out of school, which is below the average number of 77.2 percent in European countries.

The number of families living without adequate necessities, such as heating, has reached a staggering 8.6 million, or one family out of five. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for those same families to not be able to afford a healthy meal consisting of meat once every 2 days, meaning 16.6 percent of families living in poverty in Italy are not receiving an appropriate amount of nutrients.

Poverty in Southern Italy has increased by a whopping 90% over the past five years, a clear indicator of the economic gap between Northern Italy and Southern.

The recession is also affecting the ability of Italian employees to take a holiday break. 50 percent of Italians are not able to enjoy a holiday week off and, in Southern Italy, approximately 69 percent of Italians are unable to enjoy a holiday off. Employee wages are being cut and full-time employment is at record lows.

– Rebecca Felcon

Sources: Reuters, UK Reuters, The Local, CNBC, Global Post