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ROME: Italy's unemployment rate rose to 8.8pc in June from an upwardly revised 8.3pc the month before, data showed on Thursday, as some 46,000 jobs were lost in the continued coronavirus crisis, national statistics bureau ISTAT reported.

The May rate was previously reported as 7.8pc and ISTAT said the health emergency was proving an obstacle to gathering data.

A Reuters survey of nine analysts had forecast a June jobless rate of 8.6pc.

June is the fourth month of employment data to reflect the impact of Italy's outbreak of coronavirus which came to light in late February.

"Since February 2020, the level of employment has fallen by around 600,000 people and job seekers have fallen by 160,000, while the number of inactive people has increased by over 700,000," ISTAT said.

The government's lockdown measures aimed at containing infections brought the economy to its knees, with most firms shuttered throughout March and April.

The jobless rate plummeted in those two months as people stopped looking for work, hitting a multi-year low of 6.6pc in April.

The subsequent rise in May and June reflects the gradual end of the lockdown enabling Italians to return to the labour market.

Only people actively looking for a job count towards the unemployment rate.

Looking to shore up the employment market, the government has banned companies from sacking people until mid-August and has bolstered temporary lay-off schemes to help firms overcome the crisis.

Nonetheless, in the April-to-June period, 459,000 jobs were lost compared with the previous three months, ISTAT said.

In June, the youth unemployment rate, measuring job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, rose to 27.6pc from a revised 25.6pc in May.

That month's figure was previously given as 23.5pc.

Italy's overall employment rate, one of the lowest in the euro zone, slipped in June to 57.5pc from 57.6pc in May.

The government has pledged more than 75 billion euros in financial support for companies and families, and Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri has said repeatedly that "nobody must lose their job because of the coronavirus".

In the first quarter of this year gross domestic product plunged 5.3pc due to the virus outbreak, the steepest quarterly drop since the current series began in 1995.

The second quarter, which contains more days affected by the lockdown, is expected to post an even steeper decline, with the data due out on Friday.

Economists predict a partial rebound over the second half of 2020.