The road to full employment: what the journey looks like and how to make progress

‘Full employment’, for so long considered an unreachable relic of a bygone age, is back on the agenda. That it is once again part of economic and political debates is testament to the UK’s remarkably strong employment performance in recent years. A record-high employment rate is something few people would have thought possible this soon after the most sustained economic downturn in living memory. Expectations of what may be possible are shifting, and the question of how much further we might expect to go is increasing in relevance.

It is in this context that the Chancellor has committed to full employment as an ambition for the government, targeting the highest employment rate of G7 economies and a 2 million employment increase within this parliament under this banner.

Welcome though such ambition is, with no universally-agreed definition of full employment and no further detail on the government’s approach at present, it is not clear just what these targets represent, who they benefit, or how they should be achieved. This report – the conclusion of a nine-month investigation into full employment by the Resolution Foundation – addresses these questions. It sets out a vision of further employment growth on the road to full employment that delivers the strongest social and economic benefits, and it provides policy directions for how we might get there.