Mike Allison pointed out this article by Aaron Hoffman (from Purdue) on the political science job market and it is encouraging.
Combined, there are more academic and nonacademic job openings advertised than candidates and, overall, competition for assistant professor positions is less intense than it was in 2009-2010. However, the market for assistant professors has not loosened up for everyone. On the contrary, in some sub-fields there were more applicants per assistant professor position in 2012-2013 than during the recession-hit 2009-2010 market.
As you would expect, political theorists have by far the toughest time--small departments may not have one at all and larger departments may only have one:
But overall the market isn't bad:
- Slightly more than 79% of Ph.D.s in political science secured employment at the time of their graduation in 2012-2013. This success rate is about 10 percentage points better than Ph.Ds in other social science disciplines.
Good! He also tackles the question of going on the market while ABD and comes to a sensible conclusion:
A more difficult question to answer is whether students should wait to complete their dissertations before searching for jobs. The APSA’s data suggests that finishing is a key to success on the market. This convinces me that students with uncertain completion dates should consider delaying their job searches. My experience on job search committees and watching students from my program on the market, though, suggests that those who can credibly tell hiring committees that they are close to defending are still able to secure good positions.
Speaking from experience as a chair who has run four assistant professor searches in the past two years, I agree completely. Being ABD is fine if your advisor tells us you will finish before you arrive--for a job starting in August that obviously means finishing no later than the summer.
In general, this is nice to see.