In the past month, there have been 2 (count 'em -- 2!) industrial job ads in Chemical and Engineering News. To see if this is an anomaly or a trend, I've charted the industrial ad content for the issue of C&EN for 2nd week of September. (I tried to pick the issue that was closest to the arbitrary date of Sept. 14.) The resulting graph (data set here) is not encouraging:
Now, there are any number of explanations:
Competition against C&EN: 1989 is before the internet - I'm going to guess that it was the only game in town, if you wanted to hire chemists. Nowadays, it's one of at least 5 or 6 places to go -- besides, who wants to pay for ads on-dead-tree when you could pay much less for ads online?
Recruiters moving their schedules: It's completely possible that companies have, over the years, quit advertising for positions during the 2nd week of September and they're putting their ads in C&EN some other time.
The golden years are over: Perhaps this is evidence of a "secular trend", as the economists would put it, where the job market for chemists is just never going to be as good as it ever was. Sad, if true.
I'm sure there are alternate explanations; readers, you're welcome to comment on them. But nevertheless, the current paucity of industrial job ads and positions is hitting chemists hard.
UPDATE: Clarified a few words here and there. (9/28/09, 6 PM)