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Flexibility with protection is key to our new era of full employment

City workers making their daily commute
City workers making their daily commute

A record number of people are now employed in the UK, while unemployment is at its lowest level since 1975. The number of unfilled vacancies being reported by employers is around the highest level since 2001, when the current data series started. So we seem to be back to what economists might describe as full employment.

But if the job situation is so positive, why is there not a stronger “feelgood factor”? Our current high levels of employment are not creating the same feelings of confidence experienced in the 1950s and 1960s ,when the UK last enjoyed a prolonged period of “full employment”. This may be because memories of higher unemployment and greater job insecurity are still very recent. It is less than a year since the unemployment rate fell below 5pc for the first time since the financial crisis. And we have only recently recovered from nearly a decade of economic turmoil: this September...

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