Meloni’s INPS makes bad work disappear. Data ‘tortured’ to help the government

Far from being an emergency that affects millions of people. Those who were convinced that working poverty in Italy was a problem that needed to be addressed immediately will breathe a sigh of relief reading the XXII annual report of the INPS published yesterday. The first signed by the commissioner Michela Gelera, chosen by the government after having reformed by decree the higher structure of the institute and having shown the door to President Pasquale Tridico. The document, in fact, ensures that I Working little There are only 871,800 in the entire country and those who are poor only because of starvation wages (and not because they work a few hours) remain at 20,000, “a marginal component.” Results obtained with a certain statistical astuteness, as we will see. And perfect as help to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is against the minimum wage and who in August, pressured by the opposition, took her time to pass the ball to Col. Renato Brunetta.

Torturing the data: how to make the working poor disappear
To understand to what extent these figures are far from the most authoritative estimates, it is worth dusting off the Bad Work Report written in 2021 by the group of experts created by former minister Andrea Orlando and coordinated by OECD economist Andrea Garnero. The proportion of employees with gross salaries less than 60% of the median (the standard definition of employed poverty) was over 24%: almost one in four.

Taking into account that in 2017, the reference year, employees ranged around 17.6 million, we are talking about 4.2 million employees. A little over a year ago, when presenting the previous report, Tridico recalled how 23% of workers at that time earned “less than the citizen’s income” and more than 4.3 million did not reach 9 euros gross per hour.

Trick: count income for one day, not the year
What has changed in the meantime? It doesn’t look like salaries have quadrupled. The only innovation concerns the management of the social security institution and, consequently, what the report defines as “representation (or, more modernly, narration) of the social situation.” The poor, never mentioned in the report of Extraordinary Commissioner Gelera, must also be reduced to size in the numerical analysis.

To arrive at the result, the INPS examines its own administrative data on the salaries of employees of private companies, excluding domestic and agricultural workers. Then select those with salaries less than 60% of the median, that is, with a gross daily salary of 48.3 euros: approximately 6 euros per hour. But focuses on just one month, October 2022. “In this way, all those who work a few weeks or a few months a year are not considered, who are precisely the group with the highest risk of poverty,” says Garnero.

Thus, for example, seasonal workers who only work in the summer or during the end-of-year holidays get lost along the way: for them the risk exceeds 50%. “If you want to investigate poverty in the strict sense, you have to look at annual income. In short, the dish should be on the table every night of the year and not just for a month.”

It is through this selection that The INPS manages to identify only 871,800 poor workers“6.3% of the reference audience”: 517 thousand between full time and 354 thousand between part timeaccording to the table on page 99. There follows a more detailed examination aimed at demonstrating how only a small part is poor exclusively due to low wages and not because they have an intermittent contract (therefore with low work intensity) or an apprenticeship or because they are on severance pay, on sick leave or have reduced hours due to breastfeeding.

The last look: so we get to 0.2%
Only in the remaining group, after excluding these cases, the report explains, was “a control carried out using the salary of all months” to also eliminate those who were poor in October but who in other months exceeded the 60% threshold. the median.

Greater skimming reduces the working poor with full-time contracts and poor for reasons strictly related to the salary of 20,300 people, “0.2% of total employees.” In short, “a marginal component of all occupied work.”

These are workers, the report adds, “distributed in a significant number of collective agreements, including those with the greatest audience and signed by the largest union organizations.” In first place is that of the administration agencies with Assolavoro as counterpart to the confederal ones, followed by the very widespread tertiary and services contract signed by Confcommercio and that of logistics and freight transport.

And here the new “narrative” collapses: the thesis of Giorgia Meloni and the Minister of Labor Marina Calderone according to which the minimum wage in Italy is useless because strong collective bargaining sufficiently protects workers is weakened. What’s more, that legend was already involuntarily debunked two months ago by a study by the Labor Advisors Foundation, an emanation of the order presided over for 18 years by the minister. Boiler whose husband is now in charge Rosario Luca: the document wanted to demonstrate the uselessness of a minimum working time set by law, but from the tables it appears that More than a third of the 61 main collective agreements signed by Cgil, Cisl and Uil have minimum wages well below 9 euros per hour..

Not exactly proof of success.

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