MILAN (Reuters) - The Italian government may raise its 2015 economic growth forecast after recent data showed a rise in job creation and a stronger economic outlook, Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan told Italian daily Il Messaggero.
Unemployment hit a two-year low of 12 percent in July and joblessness among those aged 15-24 dropped to 40.5 percent from a record 43.1 percent in June, data showed on Tuesday.
On the same day, statistics bureau ISTAT revised up previous calculations for growth in the first half, a boost for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s bid to re-start an economy that has stagnated since Italy adopted the euro.
“We are working to update the (growth) forecasts in the government’s multi-year budget plan and ... we may record an improvement,” Padoan said.
The government’s estimate for gross domestic product to grow 0.7 percent this year looks within reach after growth for the first and second quarters was revised up to 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.
Padoan said employment had risen more than the government expected in July. Some 44,000 jobs were created, but that the fall in unemployment was also due to many people giving up looking for work.
The government plans to scrap taxes on primary residences from 2016, Padoan said, noting Italy was determined to discuss the issue with the European Commission.
“We expect attention and respect (from the Commission)”, Padoan said, pointing out that Italy is one of the few euro zone countries with a public deficit under the threshold of 3 percent of GDP.
Turning to the global economy, Padoan said there was little risk of contagion from a slowdown in China as long as Beijing made clear how it plans to manage the situation.
Padoan said it should not be taken for granted that the U.S. Federal Reserve would decide to raise interest rates at a policy meeting on Sept. 16-17 as weaker Chinese growth would balance out “vitality” in the U.S. economy.
Reporting by Francesca Landini and Elvira Pollina; Editing by Louise Ireland