by Davide Dazzi, OpenCorporation
(translation by Federico Tani)
After the publication of the DPCM (Prime Ministerial Decree) of 22 March and the list of ateco codes of companies deemed essential, a surreal debate ensued, one to which we wish to participate offering some maps and data on the number of potentially open or closed companies and related employees following the implementation of the decrees. The data presented here take activities in consideration as well, therefore the relative ateco classification codes, considered essential when implementing the DCPM (Prime Ministerial Decree) of 11 March 2020.
From an analytical point of view, however, it is worth pointing out that the attempt to portray the complexity of the different supply chains starting from ateco codes, and therefore from a product classification, is certainly an operation that presents various limits and distortions precisely because of the nature of the data. And these limits are even more evident when counting employees “at work”.
Below are presented some elaborations by OpenCorporation and the Centro Studi Filcams based on Bureau Van Dijk databases – databases that collect data from public and private companies required to present financial statements. The database is dynamic and constantly updated to the submission and reclassification of financial statements, which is why it was decided to prefer the presentation of % values and not in absolute terms. In order to capture data as of 2019, it was decided to select the financial statements for the last available year, aware of the risk of including other registered but no longer active companies in 2019. The data on employees, of course, are those present on the financial statements and therefore are quantitative data, nothing says if the workers are already smart-working, laid off or absent for other reasons (as already mentioned by the researcher Gianluca De Angelis, whom I thank for the discussion).
Summing up the indications of the DPCMs (11 March and 22 March), more than 800 thousand companies remained open, or 39.9% of the total number of companies monitored at national level. In Lombardy there are more than 155 thousand businesses that have remained open because they are essential, or about 38.8%. In Bergamo and Brescia the percentage of businesses closed reaches 65% of the businesses observed, which is slightly higher than the regional and national average. In Emilia-Romagna, there are more than 58 thousand open companies, or 38% of the total. The map of Italy shows how the percentage of open enterprises on the total varies from 25.7% (minimum point) to 50% (maximum point of the total) with higher percentages in the regions of Southern Italy, reflecting different structures of the production system (attached is the data file on the provinces).
There are approximately 7.5 million (57.6%) employees included in the financial statements of companies considered essential, while approximately 5.5 million (42.4%) workers in companies considered non-essential in the two DPCMs considered. In Lombardy there are more than 2.1 million workers potentially at work in essential companies, or 58% of the total workers observed in the region. In Bergamo and Brescia, 56.4% and 43.4% of the workers surveyed in the financial statements of companies that are open because they are non-essential are 56.4% and 43.4% respectively. In Emilia-Romagna the workers employed in essential companies are about 650 thousand, 53.2% of the total observed. The observation of the national map shows how the share of employees at work varies from 29.7% to 89.4% showing the highest percentages always in the regions of the South, although in a lower degree (data file on provinces attached).
Italy, however, is not the only country committed to identifying criteria for attributing the character of essentiality to parts of the production system. In the United Kingdom, guidelines have been produced to maintain the training offer, in addition to the profiles with the highest social marginality, also for the children of those who work in strategic sectors to ensure an effective response to Covid-19: health, social assistance, education, local and national government, transport, financial services, public utilities, public safety, food production, processing and distribution and communication services. It is of interest to note that in Italy, at least from a formal point of view, non-essential activities are suspended, while in the United Kingdom the character of essentiality is built on the ability to respond to covid-19.
 The Ateco code is an alphanumeric identification code, and Ateco stands for ATtività ECOnomiche (Economic Activities). It’s the classification adopted by ISTAT (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica Italiano -Italian National Institute of Statistics) for national statistical surveys of an economic nature. This code is provided at the opening of a new business activity: thanks to the Ateco code it is possible to establish the category of pertinence of the activity. The Ateco Code is the Italian translation of the NACE Code, i.e. the Nomenclature of Economic Activities (Nace) created by Eurostat, and is the equivalent of other nomenclatures such as NAICS (North America Industry Classification System).
 The Prime Ministerial Decree of 22 March, in addition to indicating the ateco codes for companies deemed essential, also confirms as essential the activities already defined in the Prime Ministerial Decree of 11 March 2020, i.e. activities mainly related to retail commerce and personal services.