A decades-long surge in the numbers of US biomedical postdocs may finally have ended.
From 1979 to 2010 the number of US postdocs in the biomedical sciences has risen steadily, from just over 10,000 to more than 40,000. But in the past three years, the tide has turned, according to official statistics.
The population of US biomedical postdocs fell 5.5% between 2010 and 2013, to just under 38,000, with losses getting bigger each year, notes a study published on 6 October — although the number of new graduates with science PhDs continues to rise...From the same NSF survey that the paper is based on (the NSF's Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates), here's the data for chemistry postdocs. I'll try to modify this over today to get something better up:
Looks to me that there has been a steeper drop for chemistry postdocs between 2010 and 2013, with an 8% from between the two years.
It looks like I pseudo-predicted that Peak Chemistry Postdoc would be 2011 (that post was from 2012), but it looks like it was more like 2009. (In this sense, were new chemistry PhDs going to postdocs a leading indicator of problems in the #chemjobs market? I doubt it? Employment tends to be a lagging indicator of issues, although I could be wrong.)
I sincerely hope that the number of postdocs continues to fall, for the right reasons, i.e. only universities who sincerely want TT-level assistant professors to have them will be wanting them. Everyone else who wants their new entry-level PhD hires to have an extra 2 years of experience will should be required to pay for it. It seems to me that the "right" number of postdocs is in the 500-1000 range, but that's a personal preference, really.
* For this number, I chose the "2007 'new'" number. From the NSF: "In 2007, GSS-eligible fields were reclassified, newly eligible fields were added, and survey was redesigned to improve coverage and coding of GSS-eligible units. "2007new" presents data as collected in 2007; "2007old" reflects data as they would have been collected under 2006 methodology. Science fields "communication" and "family and consumer sciences/human sciences" are newly eligible. Data for these two fields are only in 2007new. Science field "multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary studies" is also newly eligible; these data may have been reported under other fields before 2007. "Neuroscience" is reported as a separate field of science in 2007new; these data were reported under health field "neurology" in 2007old and previous years. "Architecture" is reported as a separate field of engineering in 2007new; these data were reported under "civil engineering" in 2007old and previous years. See appendix A, "Technical Notes," for more detail."