Post Academic


In honor of MLA JIL opening day: Revisiting “Worst. Job Market. Ever.”

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools,The Education Industry by Arnold Pan on September 16, 2010
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"Copies of The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Surival Handbook..." by BrokenSphere (Creative Commons license)

So today is basically like Christmas day for the English and Comp Lit types looking for jobs, because the MLA Job Information List is finally up!  Many folks have been waiting for months and months for this day, which might explain why I can’t get on the mla.org or ade.org JIL sites.  Once their servers ever de-slam, and provided someone renews UCI’s subscription, we’ll try to offer some anecdotal analysis comparing this year’s initial job listings to last year’s edition.  Otherwise, we’ll just have to check and re-check the Academic Jobs Wiki today in hopes that someone will repost the jobs–might as well develop that habit and bookmark the site now, because it’s gonna happen sooner or later!

But to mark the occasion, we’re gonna give you a little homework in preparing for the job market and provide a little historical context.  We’re reposting a piece from this spring around when the blog just started, which basically digested the very sad and depressing numbers released by the MLA “Mid Year Report.”  I guess you could say that the report was “comforting,” since it pretty much confirmed that it wasn’t your fault you couldn’t find an academic job–2009 really was the “Worst. Job Market. Ever.”  Here’s hoping things are better this year, since they couldn’t be worse–could they?

This little nugget from the MLA via an Inside Higher Ed news blurb (forwarded to me by Caroline) all but confirms what many of us have known empirically or surmised: that the current manifestation of the job market is the worst ever — or at least since almost all current first-time job seekers were born.  According to a MLA midyear report, advertised job openings dropped from 1,380 English positions in 2008-09 to a projected 1,000 positions in 2009-10; for foreign languages, the drop went from 1,227 to a projected 900.  Most startlingly, the raw numbers indicate that this the fewest number of job openings in at least 35 years (see Figure 1 from the MLA report).  For job seekers looking for their first tenure-track position, the stats may even be worse, with only 165(!) T/T Assistant Prof positions in English and 97(!!) in Foreign Languages advertised in the “big” October 2009 Job Information List (see Figure 5 and Figure 6, respectively).

Check out how quickly this decline has hit the profession:

Year: Total Job Openings (English numbers/Foreign Language numbers) and Tenure-Track Assistant Professor Openings in Oct 2009 (E/FL)

2005-06: 1,687 E/ 1,381 FL total and 412 E/ 231 FL Asst Prof

2006-07: 1,793 E/ 1,591 FL total and 474 E/ 267 FL Asst Prof

2007-08: 1,826 E/ 1,680 FL (The highest number of openings since 1999-2000) and 384 E/ 244 FL  Asst Prof

2008-09: 1,380 E/ 1,227 FL and 299E / 236 FL Asst Prof (Keep in mind that many, many openings were cut after they were advertised in Fall 2008, at various stages of the process)

2009-10: 1,000 E/ 900 FL total (projection) and 165 E/ 97 FL Asst Prof

More bad news, below the fold…

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