This paper forms part of an Institute project studying full employment and its meaning fifty years after the 1944 White Paper. It considers the issues in relation to the manufacturing sector which has seen mass destruction of jobs, in particular since 1970, a period when the workforce has been reduced by half. Much of this loss has occurred in low skilled occupations and this has consequently led to increased inequality and a widening of the distribution of 'earning power'.The paper concentrates particularly on the chemicals and motor industries as these demonstrate how two industries within the manufacturing sector have adapted in different ways to employment changes. The chemical industry seems to have emerged successfully with a growth in its productivity and a strong trade performance whereas the motor industry has been strongly affected with mass job losses. In its analysis the paper considers trends in output and performance and competition between major UK companies. Trends in employment are then discussed where numbers of male and female employees, part-time, temporary and full-time employees, and skilled and non-skilled occupations are considered. The paper analyses the effect that technology has had on this workforce composition and then goes on to examine the declining power of the trade unions in UK industry since 1979 and increased competition as factors contributing to a fall in levels of employment. No PDF version is available. Please contact the pubs [at] niesr.ac.uk (NIESR Publications Office) to order a free hard copy of this Discussion Paper.