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Archive for April 28th, 2009

(I’m not sure what the average lifespan of a Beatles song on YouTube is, but enjoy this post’s soundtrack while it lasts.)

In “Getting Better” by the Beatles the most comforting aspect may be that “it can’t get no worse.”  Unfortunately, this is not the case for the sociology job market.  The April issue of Footnotes highlights what anybody who knows someone on the job market this year can tell you: the job market sucks.  Beyond the problems associated with the ASA’s previous assessment of the job market (for example, it looked at raw numbers without considering the preferred institutional type and geographic location of candidates), the new report finds that the number of posted jobs has declined in each of the two years since 2006, stating “there was a 36-percent decline in listings between 2006 and 2007, and another 17-percent decline between 2007 and 2008.”  Overall, there was a 39.3% decline in listings for assistant professor positions between 2006 and 2008.  The complete comparison is below:

The Footnotes article notes that these numbers do not take the number of canceled jobs into account, so it is likely that the complete story is even bleaker.  Comparing the job market wikis from 2007 and 2008 there were over twice as many cancellations reported in 2008 (39 vs. 17 in 2007).  While the wikis are far from perfect, they do provide a rough estimate of what the ASA is likely to find when it surveys sociology departments about canceled searches.

At this point, lots of people have likely accepted that they are not going to have a job for the fall of 2009, so the question quickly becomes how the 2009 job market will shape up.  Spending freezes have been reported at schools across the country, which suggests that the number of jobs posted this fall will be even lower.  A slightly positive side effect may be that schools will wait until they know a position has funding before posting, so the numbers of cancellations may be down, saving some of the time and money that candidates put into cancelled positions last year.  When it can’t get no worse, it will get better.  Unfortunately, it can still get worse.

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