Every year, for the past several years, I’ve been tracking the number of jobs listed on the American Anthropological Association job postings as of September 26. That date is somewhat arbitrary and I chose it for historical reasons, but a slightly different date wouldn’t really change much with the overall trends. As a proxy for the health of the job market in anthropology, though, the AAA listings are ideal, since, at least historically, most tenure-stream positions in the discipline get listed there (but see below). So here we have it, including the 2012 figure:
While this looks like a slight decrease from last year, I actually think that actually there are around the same number of jobs, or possibly even trending slightly up, for several reasons:
First, there are definitely fewer postdocs or nationally-advertised one-year positions listed on the AAA site than in the past. In the past, upwards of 20% of jobs posted were postdocs or visiting positions or jobs outside the academy; this year, fewer than 10% of the posted jobs are non-tenure-track. So that’s a good sign.
Second, I’ve noticed a lot more institutions posting tenure-track anthropology jobs on more general sites (like the Chronicle of Higher Ed or Inside Higher Ed) rather than the AAA. One possibility is that this may reflect a decline in the AAA’s prestige, but I don’t think that’s too likely. Alternately, I’ve heard that the their AAA’s job listings are quite pricey, so maybe they’re just getting priced out of the market.
Third, my sense (anecdotal, admittedly) is that while formerly many if not most jobs were posted in September, now lots of tenure-track positions get posted in October or later. This may partly be because deans/provosts don’t approve searches as early, although I’ve heard that jobs in English lit are decidedly up already by this point, which would work against that idea. More significantly, anthropology departments are definitely less likely in the past to interview candidates at the November annual meetings (relying on Skype or phone interviews instead), because of the cost of national searches and the ease of video interview. Thus, positions can be advertised later and with a later closing date. This will be confirmed or refuted within a few weeks as we see how many new postings come in October.