Before we get to the numbers, perhaps you should soothe your soul with BB King.
Comparing cumulative job postings from August 1 to October 31 for the past three years, there are 53% fewer jobs posted on PhilJobs in 2020 compared to 2018 and 2019.
You read that right: there are fewer than half of jobs advertised this year compared to the last two years. Take a look at the graph below.
By the end of October in 2018 and 2019, there were 270 and 267 jobs posted (respectively). In 2020, there have been 126 jobs posted so far. If you're a real glutton for punishment, you can see the decline in job postings across three months:
Everyone suspected that the job market would be bad this year, but I didn't think it would be this bad, with fewer than half the number of jobs posted compared to this time last year.
Of the jobs that have been posted, what's the distribution of kinds of jobs looking like? Below is doing counts of job type (e.g. postdoc, senior faculty, etc) and contract types (e.g. fixed-term, tenure-track, etc)
Most of the jobs advertised are postdocs or tenure-track positions. Unfortunately, most departments don't advertise adjunct positions on PhilJobs. I'd like to see if demand for adjuncts is increasing amidst all this.
Now, let's look just as tenure-track positions. How many have been posted now compared to this time last year?
There have been 28 posted so far. In 2018 there were 108 posted by this time, and 102 posted in 2019. That's 73% fewer tenure-track jobs posted compared to this time last year. There will likely be some more jobs trickling in, but we've passed peak job-posting season. (Check out this blog post for details.)
Finally, let's look at the postdoc scene:
So here's one silver lining: the number of postdocs seems to be more or less in line with the last couple of years. I imagine that's because postdoc funding comes from different pots than faculty and admin funding.
The long-term effects of this are hard to discern, but of this much we can be confident: there's going to be a hell of a backlog of job-seekers for the foreseeable future. The job market wasn't pretty before, and it's only going to get worse. It's not as though the jobs are going to spring back right away, if at all -- but I'd love to be wrong about it.
In light of this, I hope that departments and the APA increase their efforts to promote non-academic careers. Yes, yes, I know there's an APA committee for non-academic careers, and I know every department can tout some of its graduates who have gone into non-academic careers. But the non-academic-career-side of professional philosophy is still the red-headed stepchild (no offense to my fellow gingers). The situation was already unsustainable, and the pandemic has only made matters worse. The profession can't keep continuing to prioritize academic over non-academic careers. This is an opportunity to grow and adapt. I hope the profession doesn't squander this opportunity.