Market for Full-Time Language Jobs Improves Again but Still Lags Behind Pre-Recession Levels

September 24, 2012

The market in full-time jobs for scholars with Ph.D.'s in English or a foreign language improved in 2011-12, for the second year in a row, according to a new report from the Modern Language Association.

However, the back-to-back annual increases in the number of jobs advertised has not made up for the sharp declines in advertised positions in the years immediately following the recession that began in 2008.

In English, 1,235 jobs were advertised in the MLA's Job Information List in 2011-12, representing a 3.8-percent increase over the year before. In foreign languages, 1,128 positions were advertised, a 3-percent increase over the previous year.

The number of job ads in 2011-12 remained well below a peak in 2007-8, when 1,826 positions in English and 1,680 in a foreign language were advertised, according to the report.

This year's numbers are 32.4 percent below the 2007-8 numbers in English and 32.9 percent below the peak numbers in a foreign language.

Of the ads listed with the MLA in 2011-12, close to 70 percent of the English positions and 55 percent of the foreign-language jobs were tenure-track openings.

Those proportions, the report says, fell midway between the norms established before the recent recession and a low in 2009-10, when 65.1 percent of English positions and 49 percent of foreign-language jobs advertised in the MLA list were classified as tenure-track.

Few two-year colleges advertise their openings on the MLA list, the report says, and nearly all of the positions announced in the list are full time. So, the association said, its report does not offer any insight into trends in the hiring of part-time faculty.