I initially said that I'd post updates about placements on PhilJobs every six months. When I committed to this in February, I didn't realize that I'd be up to my neck in work in March and April. I'm getting to it, but it'll take a minute!
Anyway, something I do have done is the counts of job placement postings on PhilJobs. Let's look at 2021.
There were 30 TT, 7 fellowship, and 5 "other" placements listed. Now let's compare this with trends since 2015.
2021 is trending way below average.
You might notice that there aren't any placements for visiting positions in 2020 or 2021, but we know that there were visiting positions advertised. What does this mean? We know that, as of November 2020, there were only 5 visiting positions advertised. We also know that PhilJobs is a source of information about the job market that is timely but gappy: not everyone posts their placements on PhilJobs or PhilPeople. Given that there were so few visiting positions advertised for this year, it's not surprising that there are no posts for VAP placements.
The big takeaways:
1. placements are way down this year (unsurprising, I know)
2. VAP positions and placements took a big hit, which is unfortunate since these positions are one way in which newly-minted PhD's get their foot in the job market door
3. we're likely going to be looking at a big backlog of job seekers next year
3a. look at this three-year rolling average of junior job posts:
(Why a rolling average? Jobs are advertised in academic years, not calendar years. The rolling average is one way to smooth this out.) Jobs ads have dropped off recently. What are the chances they'll pick up to pre-2020 levels for the 2021-2022 job cycle? Given the closures of departments that have littered the news, I'm guessing fairly low. The usual glut of applicants for jobs is going to be even greater this time around, I would guess. How much more? That's hard to say. The Survey of Earned Doctorates I don't think has published their data on PhD's in philosophy earned in 2020-2021. Carolyn Dicey Jennings has the data here. It looks like there was a downtick in 2019, and I imagine the same for this year. But unless the downtick in PhD's awarded is accompanied by lower admissions to PhD programs and/or higher drop-out rates and/or fewer people attempting academic jobs, the backlog will bounce back some time.
Marcus Arvan on The Twitter expressed cautious optimism for next year. Marcus might have access to info that I don't; but given the tea leaves now, I doubt things will be much better for job-seekers.