full employment

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The full employment is generally the complete utilization of all production factors in economics . In a narrower sense, the production factor work -related, it stands for the employment of all industrious labor force and the market equilibrium in the labor market .


In the political discussion, full employment is mostly seen in connection with the fight against unemployment . It is defined here as not exceeding a certain percentage of the unemployment rate , e.g. B. less than two percent. In regions with an extremely high level of employment, unemployment rates of less than two percent can actually be observed.

In 1945, William Henry Beveridge , in his work Full Employment in a Free Society, defined full employment as a condition in which the number of vacancies exceeds that of the unemployed, at a rate of three percent (frictional, i.e. temporary unemployment during a job change) took for granted. “Full employment in the broader sense can be understood as the state in which all persons who are able and willing to work can find a job under the prevailing working conditions ”.


In Germany is StabG high among others since 1967 employment level state as target actions explicitly mentioned ( § 1 StabG). Also in § 1 para. 1 SGB III is the high level of employment in the Employment Promotion talk. In West Germany, during the economic miracle and the labor shortage, the one percent mark was still regarded as the limit to full employment. After the end of the 1950s, according to international standards, full employment with an unemployment rate of two percent was in principle achieved. While an unemployment rate of more than 1.5 percent was considered “politically unacceptable” in the Federal Republic of Germany in the early 1970s, the goal of full employment gradually faded into the background until the end of the 1980s. In the meantime, in the 1990s, brands of 4%, 5% or even 6% were used as a benchmark. In 2004, the social democratic minister of economics and labor, Wolfgang Clement , said that Germany had to be prepared for an unemployment rate between three and five percent, which, under today's conditions, means practically full employment. The economist Rudolf Hickel sees full employment in Germany as achieved when a maximum of around one million unemployed people are reported. Around 400,000 of them are likely to appear temporarily in the statistics while they are looking for a new job and around 600,000 people are unemployed who are difficult to place due to insufficient qualifications .

The director of the Institute for Employment Research , Joachim Möller , believes full employment is achievable in the coming years. The reason is that many baby boomers are retiring, but few young people are coming.

Macroeconomic Theories

According to the classical and neoclassical theory (say Say's theorem ), a full-employment equilibrium automatically arises in a self-regulating, completely free market. That is, if the state does not intervene in the market through economic policy measures and if the factor costs (especially wages) can develop in the free play of supply and demand. Reason: Any underemployment due to an economic downturn triggers reactions - especially wage cuts by companies - that lead back to full employment. As a result, prices would also move downwards in line with wage developments, which would generate new positive stimuli in demand for goods.

In the real social market economies of today , this ideal scenario does not occur because the state intervenes in the market in some areas. Above all, it also creates the legal basis for agreeing the level of wages by means of collective agreements (and enforcing them by means of the right to strike ), which leads to a lack of flexibility for downward wage adjustments. As John Maynard Keynes pointed out, this can lead to prolonged underemployment balances.

According to Milton Friedman , every economy has a specific natural unemployment rate , determined by structural factors and market imperfections , the value of which can be reduced through structural reforms.

Theories on the possibility of full employment

Joel Mokyr (* 1946) wrote that since the early days of industrialization there were fears that technological developments would lead to unemployment; these fears did not arise. The discussion focused on the effects on existing jobs and overlooked or underestimated the creation of new jobs.

With a view to a development towards a gender mainstreaming- oriented society in which the individual should have sufficient time for child-rearing and social engagement, a model of a changed full employment target with a reduced number of hours per week was proposed, around 30 hours per week or 25 to 30 hours per week.


In Austria , an unemployment rate of less than 3.5% is considered full employment. In Switzerland , economists define full employment as an unemployment rate between 2% and 3%.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. Duden Wirtschaft from A to Z. Basic knowledge for school and study, work and everyday life. 2nd edition Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut & FA Brockhaus 2004. Licensed edition Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education 2004.
  2. ^ Willi Alberts / Anton Zottmann, Concise Dictionary of Economics , 1977, p. 277
  3. Ernst W. Dürr / Gertrud Neuhäuser, Currency Policy, Economic and Employment Policy , 1975, p. 117
  4. Klaus Neumann, Unemployment in the Federal Republic. Public handling of a permanent problem , Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2013. ISBN 9783828831865 , pp. 62–67, p. 63.
  5. a b Augsburger Allgemeine from August 3, 2009: full employment
  6. Patrick Bernau / Ralph Bollmann / Winand von Petersdorff: Arbeit für alle , FAZ.net, accessed on May 3, 2013
  7. ^ Artur Woll: Allgemeine Volkswirtschaftslehre , Munich 1976
  8. up there
  9. ^ Joel Mokyr, Chris Vickers, Nicolas L. Ziebarth: The History of Technological Anxiety and the Future of Economic Growth: Is This Time Different? In: Journal of Economic Perspectives . tape 29 , no. 3 , August 1, 2015, ISSN  0895-3309 , p. 31–50 , doi : 10.1257 / jep.29.3.31 ( aeaweb.org [accessed December 6, 2016]).
  10. Sabine Berghahn : Marriage as a transitional labor market? , Discussion Paper FS I 01–207, Social Science Research Center Berlin , November 2001, ISSN No. 1011–9523, p. 41
  11. In: Melanie Groß, Gabriele Winker : Queer / Feminist Criticisms of neoliberal conditions , Unrast eV, June 2007, ISBN 3-89771-302-0 , pp. 15–49. Gabriele Winker : Traditional gender order under neoliberal pressure. Changed utilization and reproduction conditions of the labor force. (PDF; 174 kB) Accessed October 30, 2009 . P. 44 ff.
  12. Topic Vorarlberg, We are on the way to full employment , September 2017 , accessed on August 8, 2019
  13. Neue Zürcher Zeitung of July 7, 2017, Switzerland is approaching full employment