The latest job-market figures for religious studies were recently released by the American Academy of Religion. Across all subdisciplines, the market was only slightly less awful in 2012 than it was in 2011: there were 6.8 registered job seekers for each job in 2012, compared with 7.6 in 2011. But in theology (including philosophy of religion), things were considerably less-abysmal in 2012 than 2011. Why? Because fewer candidates registered with the AAR’s Employment Center in 2012 than they had since at least 1996. Only 64 people gave the theology job market a shot in Chicago last November, down considerably from the local maximum of 173 in 2001. Why was this? Are theology Ph.D.s giving up on academic jobs? Are they looking for academic work outside of the AAR-sanctioned market? Honestly, I have no idea.
Informed by comments from Jeramia Ory, I’ve changed how I represent the job market data in the chart. It has definitely gotten harder to get an academic job in theology over the past decade and a half (the only period for which the AAR has reliable numbers), but it hasn’t gotten epically worse, as my prior chart indicated. And as I think this chart shows, the competition for academic jobs is driven by the number of candidates on the market as much as by the number of positions advertised.