My colleague Nader Shoaibi suggested that there have been fewer "open" AOS ads than in previous years. Is that right?
First a plea: if you're going to post a job, please use a heading like "epistemology" or "metaphysics" or "ethics" and then go into detail in your ad. The detailed description in the AOS section makes it really hard to look at larger patterns because there's so much cleaning of the data to do. I mean really, University of Leeds, you wanna through this at me: "aos is in principle open, but a background in areas of philosophy related to counterfactual thinking is required." For a postdoc ad?!? If it's open, then it's open. Otherwise, say you're looking for whatever it is you're looking for.
Anywho, here are the numbers on "open" ads compared with a few other hits.
Looks like Nader was right, there are fewer "open" ads than in previous years (with the exception of 2020, of course), though not too far off from 2016. A few quick caveats:
1. This is for July to September for each year. I'll try for an update when October is through.
2. I'm doing this in between grading papers for midterms, so the cleaning of the data was fast. I'm confident in the "open" line, but not the others. Why? Because so many ads have detailed descriptions. I've added the others for fast and semi-reliable comparison.
IT'S AS GOOD NOW AS IT WAS IN 2016!
In the words of my boy Kai Ryssdal, let's do the numbers...*cue sad trumpets* (Kai, if you're reading this, can we be friends? You can reach me at email@example.com)
Quick word on reading the plots: the numbers on the x-axis are days since January 1 and plotting the numbers begins on July 1.
All junior job postings for this year are tracking what things have been looking like since 2015, with the exception of 2020. We're not quite done with our peak season for job posting. That comes in December. (Then things are calmer from January to July, with a slight bump in April/May.) So if 2021 is trending like 2016, we can expect some more job postings before the holidays. But temper your expectations, job-seekers. The most popular deadline for getting apps in for TT jobs is November 1.
Now let's break this out into postdoc and TT/Fixed positions.
The bright yellow line that is 2021 is keeping pace with recent years, again with the exception of 2020 (though notice that by December, 2020 wasn't that far off from 2018 for postdoc positions). So that's unsurprising but good news. (Though with job market data, "good news" is always relative.)
Again, it's looking like TT jobs this year are keeping pace with previous years (except 2020). Fixed term gigs have greater degrees of dispersion but it's looking like jobs this year are comparable to previous years.
Here's a question: how many different institutions are hiring this year compared to previous years? Are there more places advertising for one or two jobs or fewer places advertising for 3 or 4?
For TT jobs, it's looking like we're currently more than below one standard deviation for the average. (Note that the average and SD do not include 2020.) For fixed term, we're pretty darned close to average. (Solid lines are averages, black for TT, red for fixed term. Dashed lines are one SD away from the average.) So for TT jobs, the number of places that are hiring is lower than what we'd expect. Though nothing like 2020 *shudder*
Oh, also note that this is for July to September. I'm counting only complete months and not month parts.
Now, if we've ever spent more than 5 minutes together, you might know that I'm pretty consistent in looking for the dark clouds amidst the silver lining. "But how could things get worse?" you might ask. Take a look at the number of philosophy PhD's granted in 2020:
There wasn't a significant dip in the number of PhDs granted in 2020. In fact, it was fairly average. But with fewer academic jobs available in 2020 this means that either:
1. there's going to be a glut of applicants this year and probably for the foreseeable future.
2. more philosophers are going to be motivated to pursue work outside of academia.
Of course, both might be true. But given that most PhD programs haven't prioritized non-academic careers, I'm guessing there will be a slight uptick in philosophers seeking jobs outside academia but a significant glut of philosophers looking for academic positions.
Good luck and Godspeed, friends. Speaking of, calm your nerves with some Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Maybe "The Dead Flag Blues" to chase away your blues?