Via Twitter, this article:
When Jennifer Mason posted an ad for a postdoc position in early March, she was eager to have someone on board by April or May to tackle recently funded projects. Instead, it took 2 months to receive a single application. Since then, only two more have come in. “Money is just sitting there that isn’t being used … and there’s these projects that aren’t moving anywhere as a result,” says Mason, an assistant professor in genetics at Clemson University.
She isn’t alone. On social media, many U.S. academics have been pointing to widespread challenges in recruiting postdocs. An investigation by Science Careers bears this out: More than 100 U.S.-based researchers were contacted because they advertised for postdoc positions this year on scientific society job boards, and of the 37 who responded with information about their hiring experiences, three-quarters reported challenges recruiting. “This year is hard for me to wrestle with: … we received absolutely zero response from our posting,” one wrote. “The number of applications is 10 times less than 2018-2019,” another wrote.
I'm somewhat sympathetic to professors (especially early-career professors) who rely on postdocs for their work. At the same time, what we are hearing right now (i.e. professors offering lower wages not being able to compete with industry) is the ideal situation. I hope this is the new normal.
We'll get a chance to find out if it is. I have not been shy in predicting a relative slowdown in hiring this year, and I imagine that within a year, professors will once again have no problem in
selling inferior goods filling their postdoctoral positions. We shall see.
(I suspect this situation has to do with Trump-era tightening of immigration, i.e. it has been more difficult to get international students and Ph.D. graduates to get visas. I haven't articles contrasting the Biden Administration's positions on this - anyone have relevant knowledge to share?)