MOSCOW : A total of 28.9 percent of people residing in Italy were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2017, a decrease of 1.1 percent in comparison with 2016, a survey by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat) showed on Thursday.

“Concerning the components of at risk of poverty or social exclusion indicator, the share of people at risk of poverty was quite stable (20.3% from 20.6% in 2016) while both the share of severely deprived people (10.1% from 12.1%) and the share of people with low work intensity (11.8%, from 12.8%) decreased. In 2016, the relative at risk of poverty gap index reached 28.0% (in other terms the relative distance between the median equivalent income of poor’s population and the poverty line was 28.0%),” a press release on the survey’s results said.

At the same time, the average household net income in 2016 has increased by 2 percent in comparison with 2015, and reached 30,595 euros ($34,693). In October, Maurizio Franzini, Istat’s acting chief, said that five million people in Italy live in absolute poverty, which is the record-high figure since 2005.

Italy was hard-hit by the 2007-11 economic crisis. According to Eurostat, the Italian public debt amounted to 116 percent of GDP in 2010, which was the second EU biggest debt after Greece and forced the government to undertake austerity measures in 2011.