Monday, August 24, 2009

Son of how bad will things be in the fall?

Back in April, we speculated wildly about how bad things would be in the fall. Now that it's late August, I thought we could speculate again, but hopefully a little less wildly. It is my understanding that the recent economic news has been better, if not good. The economy shrank by just 1% during the second quarter; the Dow is up over 9,000, which is better than it's been anytime since Lehman Brothers. Of course, it's not as good as it was before Lehman Brothers. Thanks a lot, Lehman Brothers.

So, what does this mean? In the earlier thread, somebody said something about how endowments work and how even great economic news wouldn't lead to a recovery in the job market until next year. I'd like that to not be true. Also, I'm unsure of how this endowment stuff relates to public schools. Don't public schools derive most of their funding from taxes, and relatively little from endowments? And could it happen that even if the October JFP is a disaster, things could pick up in time for the November issue to go to press?

So, does anyone have a sense for what kind of job market we're going to see?

--Mr. Zero


Will Philosophize For Food said...

Having taught at a private school last year and a public school this year, it seems to me that the public Colleges and Universities are getting hit harder than the private ones.

"I'm unsure of how this endowment stuff relates to public schools. Don't public schools derive most of their funding from taxes, and relatively little from endowments?"

True. But in rough economic times: less buying, thus less sales-tax revenue; more foreclosures, thus less property-tax revenue; more unemployment, thus less income tax revenue.

Woe for us non-tenure track philosophers. For we are all fucked. (And you've caught me on an optimistic day.)

Anonymous said...

I see no reason for much extra optimism for the 2009 tenure-track job market as a result of the good economic news. Most of the university hiring plans were already in place before the news came out.

Where there *is* cause for optimism is in the availability of full-time VAP jobs for those who fail to land on the TT. Those can be decided, relatively speaking, at the last minute by the university. We should also expect a better job market in 2010 (though not as good as 2007), and an even better one in 2011 (getting close to 2007 level, I would assume).

Havalina said...

I think there are two possibilities: the Fall 2010 market will be (1) horrific or (2) the market will be really shitty, but not quite as bad as we thought it might be.

One thing I've noticed: the past 2 years, I've been able to find a number of jobs to apply to even before the Oct. JFP comes out. I'd look at the Summer Web ads, the UK job site, the Chronicle, Higher Ed jobs etc. Most of these jobs are reprinted in the Oct. JFP, but not all of them, and it made me feel better to know there were going to be some jobs. Last year, I found a couple of dozen jobs before October. This year I haven't seen too many yet; definitely far fewer than usual, it seems. Hopefully this means nothing.

I have heard through the grapevine about a handful of places hiring this year, for what it's worth.

I've been lucky enough to get some really nice temporary jobs, but I'm sick of moving around. Hopefully it's not too bad this year, but I'm not too optimistic.

Anonymous said...

The only possible good news is that there may be fewer advertised jobs cancelled during the process. But this will be because they were never approved in the first place. I know of several universities which basically instituted university wide hiring freezes last year that were scheduled to last at least two years, and universities aren't going to be take the current economic news as a good enough reason to change these plans.

m.a. program faculty member said...

My sense is that this year will be really, really crappy. Public schools recently got their state funds, and in most cases, the funding was really, really crappy. Lots of places have had to institute furloughs and slash supply and travel budgets.

The only upside I see is that things look to have stabilized a little, so that (as mentioned above) there will probably be far fewer cancelled searches. If things continue to look better, the job market Fall 2010 will probably be better.

Anonymous said...


Yeah, but don't you think the market in 2010 or 2011 will be just as bad as the market now only because all of the philosophers who *couldn't* get jobs from 2007 until now will be added to the wave of philosophers going on the market for the first time.

So even if 2010 is a "good" year with more job postings, it will still be abysmal because you have that wave of the unemployed from previous years.

200 applicants per position a low-ball range, anyone?

Fellow doomed non TT philosopher.

Anonymous said...

One other thing that should be considered with respect to the status of the job market in the coming years: endowments for private schools are often done on a "rolling average" basis. That is, the endowment figure for a private school is based on the average value of their managed funds over the past three years (some do it on a five-year basis). So, for a private school, that means that the 2009 endowment figures are the average of 2006, 2007, and 2008. And for the 2010 endowment figures, that means that 2007-2009 will be the numbers factored into allowed endowed spending.

This means that, for private schools, there are probably 1-3 more years of restricted spending as the down years of 2008 and 2009 continue to get factored into the endowment figures.

Given this, I would expect state schools, universities, and more conservatively managed private schools to rebound quicker than most private schools, but those numbers will remain down for the next 2-3 years.

Hopefully many who read this blog are able to get some kind of position so that they are in a positive situation after the market rebounds. And, for those already in tenure track spots, it likely means that, aside from being incredibly fortunate, you'll have better advancement opportunities when things get better.

Dr. Killjoy said...

Anon 6:49,

Open jobs will typically receive upwards of 300-400 applications, and jobs advertising super narrow areas will typically pull in at least 100 applications. Numbers themselves, however, aren't really the issue. What matters, and what likely will be seen in this year's market, is an increase in the number of applications from folks who have already secured a TT position but are looking to find a more stable home...e.g., loads of junior faculty at Cal State schools who might not want to stick around to see how bad shit gets with cutbacks, furloughs, load increases, etc. These would be serious contenders for jobs rather than a mere spike in the typical number of otherwise bin-worthy applications.

Anonymous said...

Things will be even worse in the fall – with state revenue continuing to decline I don’t see any major changes for the better for at least 2 years.

At my large public university – we’ve had 2 retirements.

My Dean has frozen both positions – it will be at least 2-3 yrs before we recruit for either opening.

At the same time, to save money we lowered the salary of adjuncts teaching 100 and 200 level courses from 3900 per course to 2100 per course – we had no problem hiring adjuncts, even at these slave wage salaries.

Anonymous said...

This is irrelevant, and I have no current data to back it up, other than my experience at 2 state schools in different states (it might have happened somewhere), but I love how we're supposed to skimp on making copies and adjuncts get screwed while the vast majority of administrators can't conceive of taking a pay cut for doing what they do (horseshit).

m.a. program faculty member said...

Anon 5:57 PM:

To be fair, most upper administrators are also taking a hit in institutions that are leveling furloughs, at least: often, more furlough days than most employees.

Anonymous said...

Hey, everybody, cheer up! Harvard and Rutgers are hiring! Just apply for one of those jobs!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero and other hosts of this blog,

Speaking of hiring, what say we make a deal: When you land a TT job, you reveal your identity to us, your loyal fans? We might want to follow your career, having already suffered with you through grad school. Such drama!

Mr. Zero said...

anon 8:06:

You give me a TT job, and you've got a deal.


Anonymous said...

Say, can you guys tell us anything about the old crew: PGS, PGOAT, and Nth Year? Anything at all? I don't want you to identify them, of course, but it'd be nice to know in very general terms how the story ended.

Second Suitor said...

Yea, this here is a run out the clock situation. There's no way the economy gets worse over the next few years. Eventually potential retirees will remember why they were ready to retire. I've said it before and I'll say it again, multi-year fixed terms are looking really good about now.

Xenophon said...

My forecast, this fall there will be a third of the openings that were advertised last fall. And a quarter of those won't get filled. If you're a grad student, don't finish the diss this year if you can manage another year of funding. And what everyone above has said is true: the guys who'll graduate this year, plus the non-TT folks who have jobs, and everyone trying to get out of bad TT jobs are all going to be one the market next year and the year after. Let's see, law school's three years. . . . That's about right if you start now.

By the way, it's not bad everywhere. The schools that are well-positioned are going to clean up in this market. So if will be pretty good for maybe 10-20% of the folks who do have jobs.

Anonymous said...

yep, y'all're fucked. We just had both our proposed ads rejected by the dean. If we could hire this year, we'd have the pick of the litter. We need new blood...