Employment data for the 2022–23 academic year confirm that the hiring of college history professors since 2016 has been “lethargic but stable,” according to a recent report from the American Historical Association Career Center.
With the notable exception of a “sizable dip” in job postings due to “pandemic-related austerity measures,” which was balanced out by increased hiring during the 2021–22 academic year, job availability for historians is steady, according to the report released Wednesday.
However, the report highlights two “troubling” patterns: the “rapidly declining” number of jobs for “premodern” historians and a decrease in the number of tenure-track positions.
There were 542 total jobs listed on the AHA Career Center between June 2022 and May 2023. This was within range of the median number of openings since 2016 of 528 positions per year. But the proportion of tenure-track jobs fell sharply, with 274 listed this year compared to a median of 316 since 2016. This is the smallest number of tenurable jobs ever listed, other than during 2020–21, when the pandemic was in effect.
Of the jobs that were listed this year, only a “handful,” about 8 percent, sought historians specializing in periods prior to 1500 CE. The jobs available for “modernists” outnumber those for “premodernists” by 10 to one.
“Overall, academic job availability in history has indeed returned to the steady but insufficient state of the late 2010s,” the report concluded.