The academic job market for history and for economics

During the 2009-10 academic year, the number of positions listed with the American Historical Association dropped by 29.4 percent, according to a study the group will release today. That follows a 23.8 percent drop the year before. Last year, the association announced that the number of listings it received — 806 — was the smallest in a decade; this year's total of 569 marks the smallest number in 25 years.

But in data also being released this week, the American Economic Association is announcing that its job listings in 2010 recovered from a 21 percent decline in 2008. Further, the number of academic jobs exceeded the number in 2008. (Economics job listings include positions in the finance and consulting industries, in addition to academic slots.)

Here is more.  And:

…The total number of listings with the AEA rose to 2,842 in 2010, up from 2,285 in 2009, and only 43 jobs shy of the 2008 total. Because many of the 2008 openings that were listed were for searches that were subsequently called off, the AEA report — prepared by John J. Siegfried, secretary-treasurer of the association — says that it believes job openings are now above 2008 levels.

New academic jobs increased to 1,884 in 2010, up from 1,512 in 2009, and now exceed 2008 totals by 24. The vast majority of the academic jobs are at universities with graduate programs.

The top area of specialization in job listings, by far, was mathematical and quantitative methods, followed by microeconomics, macroeconomics and financial economics, international economics, and macroeconomics and monetary economics.


Hmmm. Well, at my institution the hiring slow-down ended THIS year, not 09-10. We're advertising 11 tenure track jobs this year (approx 175 FTE faculty, 2000 students). Expect to see recovery across the humanities soon.

Markets don't clear in the academic profession because of tenure. Tenure is viewed as a fixed cost decision, and unless the institution foresees clear future demand, procurement of additional tenured faculty is constrained.

On top of that, because of age discrimination statutes (which were not in effect when tenure for now older faculty members were granted), you have very old tenured faculty who do little research blocking the advancement of younger untenured faculty.

So, when this website talks about the glory of the market, it should look introspectively and advocate for the abolishment of tenure.

Certainly people should have insisted that "age discrimination statutes" and tenure are a combination that is both lousy in practice and improper in principle.

Basically, tenure is a perk. Abolishing tenure means faculty will ask for more money. Is that really what universities want?

Of course not. Universities are run by professors for professors' profits. For most, security and good pay is a lot more preferable than no security and higher pay. Without tenure, universities can't afford to pay a lot higher to most anyway, resulting in a drop in the number of professors jobs. Obviously, professors don't like smaller market with no security - hence they'd rather have secure sinecures.

Sadly, top demand is for the most useless and most irrelevant parts of econ. As expected the crisis has only increased demand for publication over insight.

"a PhD is suicide"

No, after suicide you don't have to pay off your student loans.

But seriously,
(1) what is the market for PhD's in an area? Economists can work for banks. Psychologists can work for marketing firms. Statisticians have similar, perhaps broader opportunities. Other fields have few options outside academia.
(2) With those outside options, a PhD is often no better than ABD or a master's.

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