I was finishing up my dissertation in 2006.  The Great Recession was still two years away.  Nevertheless, there was talk about it being a tough job market for newly-minted sociologists and, like most everybody in my shoes, I was scared sh*tless about getting a job.

It’s obvious now that I was extremely lucky to get out of grad school when I did.  A few years later the American Sociological Association (ASA) would report that the number of jobs for new PhDs fell 40% from ’06/’07 to ’08/’09 (sociologists have a job “season” that straddles the New Year).

Neal Caren, a (gloriously employed) sociologist at UNC Chapel Hill, has been tracking the job market himself ever since.  His data, posted at Scatterplot, shows that the discipline has yet to recover from the Great Recession (if that’s the sole cause of the decline in job openings).  The yellow and green line represent the drop captured in the ASA report.  The purple line represents the devastating next year and the two blue-ish lines represent a slight recovery.

This year, however, the thick orange line, reveals that this year’s market is not signalling a recovery to the job market of my own debut.  It’s up 5% from last year, Caren explains,  15% from 2010, and “a whopping 73% from 2009.”  Extrapolating from the ASA data, we’re still down 33% from ’06/’07.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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