Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, Italy was already idling in low gear. In fact, our country grew an

average of 1.2% between 2001 and 2007. The global crisis had a deteriorating effect on the already

fragile Italian economy. In 2009, the economy suffered a hefty 5.5% contraction—the strongest GDP

drop in decades.

Going forward, the Italian economy faces a number of important challenges, one of which is

unemployment. The unemployment rate has increased constantly in the last years. In 2013, it reached

12.5%, which is the highest level on record. The stubbornly high unemployment rate highlights the

weaknesses of the Italian labor market and growing global competition.

Lombardy is the second richest region in Italy, with a GDP per capita which is about 36% higher than

the national average. It is ranked fifth among European regions. However, the regional economic

system, which is strongly oriented towards exports, has not yet recovered the GDP levels reached

before the outbreak of the crisis in 2008.