Immigrants, record hiring in 2023. More foreigners legally resident, effect of the 2020 amnesty

Immigrants, record hiring in 2023. More foreigners legally resident, effect of the 2020 amnesty

Never have so many immigrants been hired in Italy (more than one million), a strong increase in legal residents in our country compared to an overall decrease in the foreign population. It is a record-breaking 2023 that redraws the map of the presence of immigrants in Italy, of their inclusion in the world of work and school, of their integration and of the still enormous inequalities suffered as represented by the 29th ISMU report on migration. Which, for the first time, gives an account of the positive effects of the regularization process (still ongoing) started with the 2020 amnesty of hundreds of thousands of immigrants employed illegally in Italy.

The census: 55,000 fewer foreigners

Despite the surge in landings on our coasts and the populist narrative of the invasion, the number of foreigners in Italy is decreasing: around 5 million 775 thousand, 55 thousand less than in 2022. The growth in residents is significant (+ 110,000 units) while there is a moderate decrease in the number of irregular immigrants, due to the effect of the “2020 emergence” procedures: now the estimate is that immigrants without a residence permit in Italy have fallen below 500,000 (458,000).

But unlike the generalized perception, the greatest number of migrants present in Italy do not come from sub-Saharan African countries but from Ukraine, Morocco, Albania and China.

Italian citizenship

And Moroccans, Albanians and Ukrainians are, in the vast majority, the foreigners who have obtained Italian citizenship. According to ISMU, the increase in the resident foreign population can almost entirely be attributed to the war in Ukraine.

arra and events that have determined the strong growth of the Ukrainian population, a presence which, among other things, had long been consolidated in the Italian reality. At the end of 2022, there were around 146 thousand Ukrainian citizens under temporary protection in Italy, of which almost 54 thousand were minors.

The births of foreign children are also decreasing

But if Italy is counting on immigrants to increase the birth rate of an increasingly older country, there is a trend reversal to be noted. The 53 thousand births of foreign children in 2022 are 27 thousand less than the maximum observed in 2012 (with 80 thousand births). The birth rates of the foreign population are in fact progressively converging towards those of Italians.

Asylum requests: this is how they grow

Data on asylum requests confirms the fact that the majority of African citizens who land on our coasts leave the country as soon as possible towards central and northern Europe. In the first six months of 2023, more than 82,000 requests were submitted in Italy (almost as many as the 84,000 in the whole of 2022): the top three nationalities Bangladesh, Egypt and Pakistan.

Religions: the Christian faith wins hands down

Most foreigners residing in Italy are Christians. According to Ismu estimates, 53.1% are Christian, the Orthodox (also due to the strong Ukrainian presence) have risen to 29.2%, more or less as much as the Muslims (29.7%).

In absolute terms it is estimated that in Italy as of 1 July 2023 there are approximately one million and 521 thousand Muslims, one million and 499 thousand Orthodox and 870 thousand Catholics.

Work: record hiring but it is “poor work”

After the setback caused by the pandemic, there was a clear improvement in the main indicators of the Italian labor market: foreigners represent 10.8% of the workforce between 15 and 64 years old, 10.4% of employed and 15.9% of the unemployed. More than one million hirings. From a sectoral point of view, the sector with the highest incidence of foreigners on the total employed is that of personal and collective services (31.6%), followed at a distance by agriculture (17.7%), catering and tourism (17 .3%), construction (15.6%). “Poor work” certainly prevails. In 2022, for non-EU workers employed on a permanent basis, the average annual salary was 19,251 euros. These are salary levels that confirm immigration that is strongly involved in the phenomenon of “poor work”.

Gender gap, women penalized

Low levels of education and linguistic competence, difficulties in reconciling family commitments and exposure to discrimination are among the penalizing factors for foreign women, especially those from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Egypt who struggle to find work.

Strongly growing demand for labor

Compared to other countries, Italy attracts poorly educated immigration: half of foreign-born immigrants have low formal education and only 12% have a degree. The lack of recognition of qualifications acquired abroad also weighs heavily: less than 3% of foreigners have a foreign qualification recognized in Italy.

The demand for immigrant labor is growing rapidly. In the coming years, as baby boomers reach retirement age, businesses will struggle to manage turnover. 2023 marked the historical record for the hiring of immigrant personnel – 1,057,620 people – planned by Italian companies. The importation of workforce from abroad is therefore emerging as an option shared by many European countries, despite a political framework dominated by the concern to reduce irregular migratory pressure and manage the flows of asylum seekers.

One student in ten is foreign

Foreign students increased. In April 2023, the Ministry of Education certified the presence of 888,880 pupils with both foreign parents. 44% of foreign students are of European origin. The largest citizenry is represented by Romania with over 151 thousand students. Followed by Albania (almost 117 thousand students) and Morocco (111 thousand). Over 27,000 Ukrainian students welcomed into our school system.

According to generations: only 3 out of 10 have citizenship

And the incidence of second generations (without Italian citizenship) is also naturally growing: those born in Italy represent 67.5% of students with non-Italian citizenship. Children of immigrants born in Italy went from 577,071 in 2020/21 to 588,986: almost 12 thousand more. The group represents 67.5% of students with non-Italian citizenship. Their presence in high schools is growing but academic delay is widespread and remains a problem that is not easy to solve.


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