Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Boy, You Confuse Me

Scouting around and listening to people, I'm starting to see a trope about the job market that's really pretty misleading. It starts by remembering how jaw-droppingly bad the job market was in the '90s. From there, there's a couple of options. One way to go is to say, now the job-market's awesome! And if not now, then soon! On the weekend, I flagged a department website that basically goes this route.

There other option doesn't involve the same bald dishonesty. It's possible to say entirely true things about the job market in the last 15 years and still give a totally misleading impression. Take a look at this, from Michael LaBossiere. He starts the trope's first step:
When I was looking for a job in 1993 the market was horrible. The standard job listing in philosophy is published by the American Philosophical Association and is called Jobs for Philosophers. When I was looking, my classmates and I called it the Job for Philosophers because it was so thin due to the small number of jobs available

"Job for Philosophers." That's good stuff. Definitely our kind of humor. But then we get:

Now that many of the old white guys are retiring or dying and the economy is generally good, there are many more openings. So, the JFP is has been fairly fat in the past few years.

What to say about this? It's basically true--there I are many more jobs, compared to the '90s. But we're still talking about a market where many, many people never find jobs. LaBossiere's trying to shoot as straight as he can here--he says the market is "variable"--but how weird is it to describe the JFP as "fat"?


Anonymous said...

Could be worse. I could have said it was "phat." What could that possibly mean? :)

Last year's JFP had numerous jobs listed, which indicates the job market was quite good. Thus making it phat. I mean, "fat."

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Anon. -- I'm not sure. I'd sort of like to see how the JFP could be made phat. As it is, it's a pretty dull read. . . .