Saturday, July 8, 2017

Closing the books on 2016-17

For tenure-track academic hiring in German, 2016-17 marks a new absolute low. To find a year where fewer positions were advertised, you would have to look back at least sixty years to the 1950s or earlier. The record low number of TT jobs advertised on opening day (7) was matched by the lowest number of TT jobs advertised all year (17), and by the earliest posting of the season's last TT job ad (in week 11, surpassing the previous record of week 15 in 2013). This year will also mark a new absolute low in the number of TT hires, as one of the 17 searches (Hamilton College) was downgraded to a VAP search; the maximum possible number of TT hires, 16, is lower than the previous low of 19 hires set in 2009-10.

That's just looking at the MLA/ADFL job information list. If you look at listings from all sources as reflected in the German jobs wiki (with 11 years of data going back to 2006), the situation is worse. The previous low, 27 TT jobs from all sources (from last year, 2015-2016), was in line with the number of TT searches from 2009-2015 (average of 33). So the current year marks a drop of 37% drop compared to the previous all-time low in the space of one year. One more time: a 37% drop compared to the previous all-time low in the space of one year.

For non-tenure-track hiring, it was another solid year: 41 positions advertised in the ADFL/MLA JIL before it closed, fifth highest and just a few places out of third (43 in 2007) and even on pace to set an all-time record just a few months back. But the VAP market went flat unexpectedly early this year. As far as NTT positions from all sources, 2016-17 is another solid year: 55 advertised NTT searches, just above average (54 for the years 2006-17).

The lack of late VAP hiring is something of a danger signal, as it suggests that late-spring/early-summer language department budgets are under pressure and the advertising of TT positions in the fall may be impacted.

Our profession is not in good health.

Friday, April 28, 2017


Unless something drastic happens - and it's almost May, so nothing drastic is going to happen - this year will mark a new absolute low in the number of tenure-track jobs in German Studies on the MLA job list: 17. That's two positions less than even 2009, the previous record for all-time miserable job markets. Of those 17 searches, one was canceled and converted into a NTT search.

Speaking of which: 2016-17 has been another banner year for non-tenure track jobs, with the number of ads near or at record levels all year. We're already at 39, with several more weeks still to go in a NTT hiring calendar that drags on into June and July. We'll likely end up in the range of such overheated NTT hiring years like 2005-2007, and beating the absolute record of 2014 is still a possibility.

So to recap: The economic recovery since 2008 has not led to a recovery in tenure-track hiring in German (or in any of the languages, actually). The job market in German is not going to make a comeback. There are, however, quite a few opportunities for you to stay in academia by moving every 1-3 years until you either strike out on the market or find yourself no longer geographically mobile (as long as you can live on $36-42,000 per year, including unreimbursed moving expenses).