Here's a 1998 piece that Leiter did for the Chronicle. It's interesting because it gives some sense of what the job market was like in the bad old days. (The short answer: really fucking bad.) But it's also interesting because it lets us compare then and now.
Leiter says of the 300-plus PhDs granted in 1995-1996, only 17 people had tenure-track jobs by 1998 in the the US top-50 and peer departments abroad. I guess the first thing to say is, I'm not quite sure what that means. I mean, what happened to the PhDs granted in 1997 and 1998? Are we supposed to infer that none of those guys had jobs by 1998? I have no idea. But still, bracket that quibble, because holy fuck. 17 hires in three years? Jesus H. Christ, that's a bad market.
By contrast, if I'm counting right, there were 36 junior hires at the US top-50 and peer departments abroad last year. No doubt, that's a better market than the 90s.
But as I've mentioned before, a lot of people who were around in the bad old days look at those numbers and say the job market is good period, not just good relative to the bad old days. But aren't we still talking about a job market where for every 100 new PhDs, there's less than a dozen jobs in the better departments in the English-speaking world? How is that good, exactly?