Friday, March 6, 2015

The job market crash in one chart

Over at Vitae, Brock Read has an article summarizing a recent report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that investigates the evidence that the academic job market in the humanities got worse in 2008. (You've got to love the AAAS headline: "Danger Signs for the Academic Job Market in Humanities?" Seriously? Having the number of tenure-track jobs drop by 50% in one year is not a danger sign. It's whole disciplines and the chance at an academic career being snuffed out overnight. The question mark should be replaced by an exclamation mark. But I digress.)

The Vitae post includes a nice graph that sums up the findings, which are based on job lists similar to the MLA's Job Information List (click over to Vitae to see a nicer version):
Jobs advertised in humanities disciplines, 2000-2013 (from Vitae)

The Vitae article and the AAAS post are careful to point out that sometimes one job ad results in multiple hires, or in no hire, and they may have missed job ads not advertised in the usual places. Those are all good points, but caution is misplaced when action is long overdue. The obvious solution to those concerns is to look at the last several years of disciplinary job wikis and see what percentage of job ads they might be missing. (And the report doesn't say if it looks only at TT jobs or at anything that shows up in a job list. As we all know, these are not at all the same things!)

So to help out the AAAS, I've included the graph below - nothing that I haven't already published here - that compares TT job ads in the MLA JIL and new TT appointments (according to "Personalia") in German for the same time frame.

TT job ads (in the MLA JIL) and new TT appointments in German, 2000-2013

 I've looked closely at the data and compared it to job ads posted anywhere jobs for German professors get posted, and, as it turns out, the AAAS is right on target: the job market really did crash in 2008, and it shows no signs of recovery.