The ASA recently released a report that described last year’s job market. Their overall assessment was fairly positive, noting that hiring is on an “upswing” and that hiring had almost gotten back to where it was in 2008. While this is good news, it should be noted that an earlier ASA report focused on how bad the 2008 job market was compared to the 2006 job market. According to the first report, in 2006 there were 610 job advertisements looking for Assistant Professors compared to 370 in 2008. This year’s study notes that 354 assistant professor jobs were posted in 2011, compared to just 214 posted in 2009. To put these numbers in perspective, each year about 600 people get a PhD in sociology.
But how is this year’s job market? A major sources of data for the ASA research is listings that appear in the Job Bank, where most sociology jobs are posted. Since you can look through all the jobs ever posted, I updated my script to extract when a job was posted. Then, I counted the number of jobs posted by month over the last few years, looking just at the jobs that used the words “assistant professor” and “tenure.” This isn’t a perfect measure (i.e. some advertisements might have more than one job, and some might use the word “assistant professor” but not be posting a job at that level), but it’s probably not far off. Unfortunately, while the Job Bank listings go back to 2006, the monthly data for that year seems less reliable, as many of the jobs are listed as being posted several months after the deadline for applications. The graph starts the year in May because it looks like that is the first month when jobs starting the following year outnumber jobs for the current year.
By my count, 61 tenure-track assistant professor positions were posted last month. This is up from just 36 last year, but still lower than the 71 positions listed in 2008 or the 83 in 2007.
July is the first of the four busy months for job advertisements, so it’s a little early to make forecasts. Prediction is also complicated by the changing pace of when jobs are being posted. In 2007 and 2008, about 25% of the year’s positions had been posted by the end of July. Since then, however, only 15% of the year’s positions have been posted, presumably because budget problems mean that universities are slower to commit to new positions. Splitting the middle, that is assuming that 20% of this year’s jobs have already been posted, which would mean 425 jobs this year, equating to about 10 more than 2008 using my numbers (which don’t match exactly with the ASAs). Not bad, but certainly not enough to make up for the horrible years.
I’ll update this at the end of August. Or you can update you own version by running the script next month.