This is the worst academic job market in n years.I was discussing this problem with a colleague a little while ago. He was on the market in 1998 and '99, and he thinks that it was still worse back then. (However, this was before the Feb. JFP came out.) It's hard to tell, though, for a couple of reasons (at least). For one thing, it's hard to tell how many applicants there are from year to year. For another, the raw numbers in the JFPs don't reveal the number of searches that have been cancelled. For another, it's possible that the Spring VAP market will rebound once administrators realize that there are only so many classes they can cut without downsizing the student body (x students times 15 semester-hours divided by 50 students per class = y classes offered--you can only cut so much before you're offering an insufficient number of courses).
So, when was the last time it was this bad?