Italy's unemployment rate declined to 8.3% in March from 8.5% in February, data showed on Monday, as some 81,000,jobs were created in the month, national statistics bureau ISTAT reported.

A Reuters survey of analysts had forecast a March jobless rate of 8.4%.

March saw an increase in both permanent and temporary jobs, while the number of self-employed workers declined from the month before, the statistics bureau said.

The March jobless rate was the lowest since April 2020.

In the three months to March, employment was up by 133,000, or 0.6%, compared with the fourth quarter of last year, ISTAT said.

Compared with March 2021, employment was up by around 804,000, or 3.6%.

More than half of the jobs created in the last year have been temporary contracts, ISTAT said. The number of temporary workers in Italy now stands at 3.15 million, the highest number since 1977, it added.

In March, the youth unemployment rate, measuring job-seekers between 15 and 24 years old, rose to 24.5% from 24.2% the month before.

Italy's overall employment rate, one of the lowest in the euro zone, rose in March to 59.9% from 59.7%, hitting hits highest level since ISTAT's current historic series began.

Italy's economic prospects have dimmed due to the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the economy contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter from the previous three months.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi's government last month revised down Italy's full-year gross domestic product forecast to 3.1% from a 4.7% projection made in September.

The latest forecast is considered optimistic by most independent bodies.

ISTAT gave the following data:

MARCH FEB JAN DEC JOBLESS RATE 8.3 8.5 8.6 8.8r YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE (15-24) 24.5 24.2 24.8 26.2 EMPLOYMENT RATE (15-64) 59.9 59.7r 59.4r 59.3 r=revised

(Reporting by Gavin Jones)