Is there any good reason to be optimistic? I have the impression that this may be the worst job market year in the past ten years.

Edit to be more specific: I am referring to hiring grad students, postdocs, and tenure-track assistant professors, primarily in the U.S., but in other countries as well. Have many universities instituted hiring freezes for this upcoming year?

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    For which market exactly? US? and for whom? US citizens or global citizens? – Boaty Mcboatface Aug 10 at 19:58
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    I am curious about this topic, but this question is currently very vague. Please edit it to be clearer about what specific information you want in an answer. (Imagine an ideal answer and edit the question to specifically elicit that kind of response.) Otherwise this question may be closed. – Thomas Aug 10 at 19:58
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    Mathjobs right now lists exactly 1 tenure-track job at a research university in the US open to a pure mathematician. I didn't keep track, but my recollection of prior years is that this is awfully few for August 10. – Alexander Woo Aug 10 at 20:57
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    Which academic job market? American historians? Canadian computer scientists? French mathematicians? – JeffE Aug 11 at 0:19
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    This question will be old in a few months, what's the point? – Herman Toothrot Aug 11 at 6:53

At my US large state univ, there is a hiring freeze for this coming year. Yes, this did also happen c. 2008.

One difference is that in the US the trans-economic source of the problem is by no means resolved... and even when/if it is "resolved", I think the "new normal" is very hard to predict. So administrations are being, and I think will continue to be, very very cautious about commitments toward the future.

So, no, no reason to be optimistic, because we don't even see the end of the disaster yet. Sorry.

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    The academic job market in my part of Europe is much less affected by the whims of the economy; there were no hiring freezes in 2008, and there are none now. I guess this mostly goes to show that the question in the OP cannot be answered generally; the answer is highly dependent on region and field. My AI department in my neck of the woods is hiring across the board (PhD students, postdocs, tenure trackers), but is that because of AI or despite Covid or because of Europe or... – Wetenschaap Aug 10 at 21:10
  • @Wetenschaap Perhaps a generic way to answer the OP's question would be to explain how one might find out for themselves what the academic job market is like, if such a thing is possible? – Cronax Aug 11 at 10:54
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    @Cronax here too, the question will have a wild smorgasbord of answers unless you restrict which "the academic job market" you're talking about. Again, ways to acquire this information will diverge across countries and research fields. – Wetenschaap Aug 11 at 11:02

There are some imprecise indications that the last several years have all been the worst year in the last 25 years. 2020-2021 will be much, much worse. In most cases, the question is not who will get a job, but who will lose one.


Hiring freeze list:


I have no affiliation with the business that provides this information.

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DISCLAIMER: I'm from the UK, and I mostly speak about UK academia, although I have some experience with the US also.

I think there is a difference between Grad Students, Postdocs and Tenure track profs, because they are all funded differently.

I see no reason to be optimistic about the job market for Lecturers/TT profs/others that are funded by core University money. Every university I know has a hiring freeze.

Postdocs are different because by-and-large they are not funded from university funds, but from external grants. The universities wouldn't get to keep that money anyway if they didn't spend it on postdocs. Certainly here in the UK, people still have grants, and there is no suggestion there will be fewer next year.

Some grad students are funded by universities themselves, others by outside agencies. In the UK the vast majority (9 out of the 10 students each year in my department for example), are funded by outside sources, and so they aren't going anywhere either. But I would expect to see places funded by the universities themselves drying up.

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