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Italy October jobless rate stable at 12.5 percent, youth unemployment at new high

A man checks job offers outside a recruitment agency in downtown Milan April 3, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was stable in October at a record 12.5 percent, while the youth jobless rate rose to a new high of 41.2 percent, statistics office ISTAT said.

October's headline jobless figure was in line with the median forecast of 12.5 percent in a Reuters survey.

The employment rate rose slightly to 55.5 percent from 55.4 percent the previous month.

Unemployment has followed an upward trend since early 2011 as Italy has languished in its longest post-war recession.

Both overall unemployment and the youth jobless rate, measuring job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, have reached their highest levels since ISTAT began recording the data in 1977.

Most analysts believe Italy is gradually moving towards a recovery but conflict between the partners in Enrico Letta's left-right governing coalition has complicated efforts to reform the economy and boost growth.

Analysts say the biggest challenge for Italy is to increase its chronically low rates of employment and participation in the labor market, which are among the lowest in the industrialized world, especially among women, the young and the elderly.

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby)