Immigrant workers contributed 143.9 billion euros to Italy’s economy

Immigrant workers contributed 143.9 billion euros (about 148 billion U.S. dollars) to Italy’s economy, or 9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year, a new report showed on Monday.

Based on data from the National Institute of Statistics and other public institutions, the “Economics of Immigration” annual report by the Leone Moressa Foundation in Venice provided a range of insights into the role played by foreign-born workers and entrepreneurs on the domestic market.

Out of 5.2 million immigrants residing in Italy last year, some 2,257,000 were employed, accounting for 10 percent of the total workforce, the report said. The highest contribution from them in value was registered in agriculture, catering and construction sectors.

After a sharp decline due to COVID-related restrictions, new working permits for immigrants increased significantly from about 10,000 in 2020 to over 50,000 in 2021, corresponding to 9.7 percent and 18.5 percent of the total issued permits, respectively.

However the report said that the job market remained fragmented, with a stronger concentration of immigrant workers in some sectors and occupations than in others — In 2021, about 29.2 percent were unskilled personnel, while skilled and technical professions accounted for about 2.2 percent.

But Immigrant entrepreneurship are on the rise. The report said by the end of 2021, foreign-born entrepreneurs increased by 1.8 percent compared to the previous year to 753,000, representing a tenth of total entrepreneurs in Italy.

It also shows that while the number of Italian-born entrepreneurs has decreased by 8.6 percent in the last ten years, foreign-born entrepreneurs increased by 31.6 percent.

The top three nationalities of foreign-born entrepreneurs working in Italy in 2021 were Chinese, which grew by 0.7 percent on an annual basis, followed by Romanians and Moroccans. ■

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