The highlight: The % of faculty with full-time tenured positions has gone from around 56% in 1975 to 31% in lovely pre-recession 2007.
The less emphasized number: the % of faculty with part-time positions has gone from 30% in 1975 to 50% in 2007.
This is nothing particularly new, though it does give us a few things the think about: the importance of newer faculty members on job market committees with first hand experience of the less-tenured job landscape or giving an accurate picture of market expectations (read: future life expectations) to new graduate students. Blah, blah blah.
I wanted to toss something else out there. Tenure's on the decline and part-time jobs are on the rise, but almost all the jobs I've applied to are tenure-track or one year positions. If tenure is realistically becoming less and less the goal, fine. The benefits of tenure aside, I don't really mind being subject to the same level of job security as most of America. That said, part-time contracts and one year gigs won't cut it. The bad part about not having tenure isn't not having tenure, it's not knowing what's coming next. Solving that problem doesn't depend on solving the tenure situation. If we're not going to have tenure, we need more multi-year and continuing positions. At a minimum a lot of part-time and one year spots that are de facto continuing positions should be formalized. You know, so that we can think about quality of life issues like houses and families, things where it helps to know that money's coming in and where you're going to live. I know that all this is easy to say when I'm not begging for my university to fund a one year position, but we're smart people (with the degrees to prove it!). Certainly we can look at the reality of academia today and work to help the system make sense.
-- Second Suitor