The start of the calendar year is a big time for gatherings of academics, and reports about the state of the job markets in various disciplines. New data on economists continue a trend of better news for the social sciences than for the humanities.
In the 2014 calendar year, the American Economic Association listed 3,051 jobs, an increase of 9.4 percent from the total in 2013. (The AEA has made slight changes in its calendar, but has tried to account for them to make year-to-year comparisons possible, if likely off by a few jobs.) While many academic jobs aren't listed with disciplinary groups such as the AEA, the trends in these totals are seen as a reliable indicator on the state of the job market in the field.
This is the first time in 14 years covered by the association's report that the total has exceeded 3,000 jobs. Last year's total of 2,790 represented a 4.2 percent drop from the previous year.
The good news comes for the association as it prepares for its annual meeting, which starts Saturday. While many disciplines are pushing hard to improve non-academic career options for their Ph.D.s, economics has long had success in this area. About a quarter of the jobs listed with the association are for non-academic positions.
As has been the case in recent years, mathematical and quantitative methods was the economics field with the most positions listed. It was followed by microeconomics, financial economics, macroeconomics and international economics.
The good news for economics Ph.D.s contrasts with the more difficult environment in humanities disciplines, many of which also gather this month for annual meetings and (for many colleges) a preliminary round of interviews for openings:
- The 2013-14 academic year saw a decline of 8.4 percent for English job openings and 6.8 percent for foreign languages, according to a December report by the Modern Language Association.
- During the same academic year, the number of openings in history fell by 7 percent, according to a September report by the American Historical Association.
- And during the same academic year, the number of academic jobs in religion fell by 17.5 percent, according to a joint report by the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature.
Notably, two fields that this fall announced improving job markets were -- like economics but unlike those showing declines -- in the social sciences. The number of faculty job openings in communication has doubled since 2009, and rose 12 percent in 2013, according to data released in October by the National Communication Association. And an August report from the American Sociological Association found a 3.9 percent increase on faculty jobs in sociology in 2013.
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