Job Freefall in History





...The report on the history job outlook -- prepared by Robert B. Townsend, assistant director of research and publications at the AHA -- not only provides the bad news about job openings, but offers context that suggests that the situation is even more dire.

In 2009, the number of new history doctorates awarded rose to its highest level in nine years -- 989, up from 969 the year before. Given that many of those who earned doctorates in the past few years have failed to find the tenure-track positions they want, and those going on the market for the first time are increasing in number, that means the competition for the openings that exist is likely to be even tougher. Budget cuts have eliminated positions, according to department chairs interviewed for a related study also being released today. Departments are eliminating some courses, increasing class size in others, and turning to part-timers to teach -- rather than hiring people into full-time positions.

Further exacerbating the situation, the report says, is that "the number of faculty [in history] approaching retirement age in the next 10 years is reaching the lowest level in 30 years." Currently, the proportion of full-time faculty in history departments who earned their doctoral degrees at least 20 years ago -- the demographic group that is considered even to be approaching retirement -- totals only 40 percent. "[E]ven if there were no hiring freezes to factor into the equation, it is clear that over the next 10 to 15 years the discipline will not be generating as many jobs from retiring faculty as it has in the recent past," the report says....


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