By Scott Jaschik
The Modern Language Association is projecting a 5 percent increase in 2011-12 in the number of open positions in both English and foreign languages.
Such gains would be welcome to would-be faculty members in those fields, many of whom have faced a terribly difficulty job market in recent years. But the MLA cautions that these gains represent only a modest start in restoring the level of jobs available before the economic downturn hit in the fall of 2008.
The current MLA projections are that the number of new jobs available in this academic year in English and foreign languages will be about one-third below the peak of 2007-8.
For those on the market this year, the contraction of the job market will be evident not only in the still-limited opportunities but in the competition for the positions available. Several years of poor job markets mean that there are plenty of unemployed or underemployed humanities scholars still on the job market after a year or more.