Distribution by sector

Over 1,570,000 individuals are employed in Tuscany, distributed as follows: 3% in agricolture, 31% in industry and 66% in private and public services; this distribution is almost identical to the Italian average. In the last 15 years the number of employed has increased by about 180,000 (+8.6%, Italy +7.6%).


This increase is almost entirely due to the growth of the service sector (over 200,000) while the number of employees in the manufacturing industries has dropped by about 5%. After the region of Liguria this relative loss is the highest in Italy; nationally the average loss is 0.6%. Thus changes in the distribution of employment continue, favouring the services sector.

Employment partecipation

In Tuscany the activity rate of the population aged between 15 and 64 is 69%, higher than the national average which stands at 63%. The employment partecipation rate of women in Tuscany is much higher reaching 51.7% for women between the ages of 15 and 64, 9% higher than the national average; this puts Tuscany at 7th place for female employment in the league table of Italian regions. In addition to partecipation of women in the work market, the female employment rate is higher (51.3%) than the national average (47.2%). While these figures might be positive within the national situation there is still a long way to go before reaching the levels of female partecipation in the work force of northern Europe.


In recent years unemployment has reached decidedly low levels and has decreased to a rate below 5%, in 8th place among the Italian regions and much better than the national average. However, this positive situation is driven mainly by the tertiary sector and analysis shows that it derives from expansion in the self employed sector and short-term contracts which have greatly increased in the last ten years. Given this growth in atypical contracts it is therefore important to evaluate not simply the overall level of employment, but also the quality of the work itself. Quality may be considered from the point of view of security of employment and, while in employment, the relevance or adequacy of professional qualifications to the post held, and the protection of rights regarding health, welfare and social security.


An indication of the degree of labour stability may be established by the number of temporary or short-term employed compared to the percentage total emoployment rate.


Territorial differences

One of the unusual features of Tuscany is the diverse nature of local developments, which corrisponds to considerable variations in employment levels among provinces; there are up to 8 points of difference in the employment rate between the best and the worst provinces. Differing levels of development determine a different distribution of work opportunities with considerable implications on the general level for partecipation in the labour market for specific sectors of the population such as women and young people.

The self employed

The self-employed component is larger in Tuscany compared to the national average, and is equal to 30% of the total compared to 26% in Italy. This is mostly in the industrial sector where the differences between Tuscany and Italy are over 5%, but it is also true in other sectors and thus represents a structural feature of Tuscany’s productive system.


This feature probably derives from the large number regionally of sole-proprietor firms and medium-small businesses in which the number of self-employed in the work force is quite high. These structural features of the region’s business activities have been considered as positive in the past and have often protected the region from employment crises. However, growing competition from the large-scale national and international companies which have arrived in the region in recent years (especially commercial) have necessitated and stimulated the organization of Tuscan business structures towards dimensional expansion.

Employment and work opportunities

In an advanced society the certainty of finding a job that guarantees an adequate level of income, the possibility of experiencing satisfaction and fulfilment within one’s employment, the expectation of working in a healthy and safe environment, are all key aspects of the employment situation and of personal happiness in general (over 80% of Tuscans believe that work influences individual well-being greatly or partly. It therefore seems an over-simplification to consider the labour situation as simply a question of a division between the employed and the unemployed. A succession of degrees exists ranging from, at one end, the worker who is happy in their job and, at the other, the unemployed individual who is frustrated by the inability to find a position. While there is no doubt that the increasing flexibility of the work market has increased the opportunities available, on the other hand it has multiplied the various possible attitudes to work and the factors that give rise to them. It is difficult to achieve any full evaluation of this phenomenon; however, it is worth mentioning some aspects that might be seen as warning signs. Less structured labour environments (where fewer permanent contracts are found) exist mainly in the weaker areas of the region, indicating that the increasing levels of flexibility in employment are frequently linked to more precarious and unstable working situations. The relationship between the professional qualifications of an individual and the post held is often severely unbalanced; if employees whose responsibilities are inferior to the level of thier professional qualifications may considered dissatisfied, then 10% of workers in Tuscany fall into this category (the percentages are quite similar in other developed regions). In addition, the qualifications most frequently requested for new jobs in recent years are of a low educational level. Data regarding the incidence of accidents at work are also worrying with 56 accidents for every 1000 employed. This figure is worse than the national average and than all the other areas, except for the north-eastern region. It would appear that the particular specialised areas of production and the kind of educational level required – aspects that Tuscany and the Veneto have in common – are a negative factor from the point of view of industrial accidents.