The market's heating up, or, more truthfully, getting ever so mildly warm.
Last year, since I was on a search, I was thinking a lot about search stuffs, so I posted a lot about search issues. If you're interested, I made a list of the job posts at the end of last year.
Earlier today, I was reading Pan Kisses Kafka (what a GREAT name, no?), talking about the difficulties of the job search in German, and especially about the problems of searches in specific areas (the South, rural communities, communities far away from support networks).
I'm mostly sympathetic to Rebecca Schuman, the blogger who writes Pan Kisses Kafka.
The market is horrible in good part because taxpayers have decided
that public education is not a public good, but a private one, and thus
that students should pay for their private good with their own money.
That's been happening for a long time. Public colleges and universities
have responded by raising tuition and using more and more contingent
labor to save labor costs. (I think private colleges and universities
are responding to somewhat different stresses.) Let's stipulate that
the market is horrible, and that PhD producing institutions are
producing a lot more PhDs than academic markets can employ.
But I'm also, well, a tiny bit unsympathetic, I suppose. (Maybe because I'm part of the "internet full of morons.") And I write this as someone who's on the other side of the job market now, but who spent three tough years on the market, who moved to a very rural area, and who moved to a less rural area, both far from anyone I knew.
First, even in the best of times, labor often has to go where there are jobs (that's true in socialist economies, too; can't blame capitalism as much as I'd like to). Even in the best of times, some of the jobs PhDs got were in rural areas and in areas far from established support networks, great libraries, and so on.
So, if you look at a job we're advertising, don't blame us for advertising a job up in the Northwoods, where it gets very cold, in an area where there aren't great libraries, and where culture sometimes seems to involve watching football in an icehouse. It's where we are because it's where our students are.
You may decide not to apply here, and that's okay. Decide what's best for you. But don't be mad at us because this is the job we have available, and it's not geographically inviting to you.
Second, I'm suspicious of blanket statements about how "fit" guarantees that everyone hired will look just like the people already there. For one thing, there may be a lot more diversity already there than you realize, because that horrible job market for the past 20+ years means that there are a lot of people who've moved all over for academic jobs for a good long time. In my experience, here, at my previous school, and when I interact with people at other schools in my system and beyond, there's a whole lot of variation in how departments/schools approach hiring. In some, yes, there are a lot of people who look like younger versions of the old pictures on the wall. In others, there aren't.
Anyway, good luck to all who are on the market. Know that you may be fantastic and wonderful, but that there aren't enough jobs in academia for all the fantastic and wonderful PhDs. It's horrible. I don't know how to change it, though, short of convincing taxpayers to consider public education a public good, and, at the same time, convincing PhD programs to produce fewer PhDs (without limiting opportunities for people who aren't already privileged by race or social class).