Image: Skispringen auf der "Schanze des Friedens," by Deutsche Fotothek
There are plenty of reasons why disciplinary societies' annual job reports can't give us a bulletproof, thoroughgoing sense of the labor markets in their fields. For one thing, the reports draw from job boards—like the Modern Language Association's Job Information List or the American Historical Association's Career Center—that have competitors. (One job, no study logging it.) For another, jobs with an interdisciplinary bent might get cross-posted on multiple boards. (One job, several studies logging it.)
That said, there's evidence that the reports can be valuable indicators of job-market trends. So when conventional wisdom holds that the humanities market has been in steep decline, and a decade's worth of disciplinary reports seem to back that up, it's probably worth paying attention. According to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, that's exactly what's happening:
This is a simple and striking graphic: Up to 10 years of scholarly reports, from six different fields, with all but the relatively small classical studies showing real dips in job postings starting in the 2008-09 academic year. It's not the beginning and the end of the story of hiring in the humanities, but it's not especially encouraging, either. Read the academy's full write-up here.