The confederate secretary of Italy's Cgil trade union Serena Sorrentino voiced her dismay at the alarming May youth employment data released Monday by Italy's central statistics office Istat.
"Youth unemployment is a dramatic national emergency. Once again, and almost unbelievably, the data on youth joblessness have worsened," she said.
"This and the problem of job insecurity are priorities that need to be addressed with a job plan," Sorrentino said.
The proportion of young jobless people aged 15-24 has rarely dropped below 20 percent since Istat began keeping records of the phenomenon in 2004 and has been climbing steadily since it hit 30.6 percent in September 2011.
"The unemployment figures confirm a negative trend that is determining a structural reduction of the workforce," Sorrentino warned.
Italy's stagnating economy suffers from chronically low growth and has been in recession since last year, led by collapsing domestic demand amid higher taxes and steeper borrowing costs.
A fragile recovery is not forecast until 2013 at earliest. Cgil favours a wealth tax to free up public resources for workers and pensioners, re-launch consumer spending and kick-start the economy, Sorrentino said.
She had criticism for labour reforms passed last week by the Italian government that weaken employee job security, saying these needed to be reviewed.
''The labour reforms have reduced social shock absorbers although as the Istat data shows, the crisis is still severe."
"There are further emergencies looming and employment must be central to any strategy to combat this crisis," Sorrentino concluded.