Based on casual observation of the tenure track job market, one might say things are improving slightly. Last season appeared to have more available jobs than the year before, and I'm already hearing rumblings about quite a few jobs poised for the fall. Hiring freezes, as far as I can tell, have been lifted pretty much everywhere and the faucet is starting to trickle again. We are nowhere near out of the woods, but there is seemingly more action every year.
But what does that mean for the average postdoc applying this season.
One disturbing trend (from the postdoc perspective) I am hearing about from both colleagues who are in hiring departments and a few on the job market relates to who is getting the desirable jobs right now. Repeatedly, I'm seeing instances where Assistant Professors or early Associate Profs are grabbing up the "better"* jobs on the market. Now one could argue that their vacated position would then open up for a more junior person, but departments aren't reliably getting those positions back, let alone in the same field. Whereas postdocs are getting interviews, they appear (again, anecdotally) to be landing jobs at a lower rate.
One counter to this is that tight funds are forcing some departments to hire only at the junior assistant level, rather than make a push to get someone more senior. I'm not sure how systemic this is, however.
What are others seeing on the job market? Is my low N representative or a skewed sample?
*Defined by the desirability of the institution and location.