Having looked at astronomy bachelor’s degree recipients in last month’s column (November 2019), we now turn our attention to physics PhD recipients and what they are doing one year after receiving their degree. We classify the first post-degree job of new physics PhDs into three main categories: potentially permanent positions,1 postdoctoral fellowships (postdocs), and other temporary positions. Although still the prevailing post-PhD outcome, postdocs account for 45% of the PhDs from the class of 2016, down from 67% in 2004.

If employment patterns continue this trend, we could enter another period during which more physics PhD recipients accept potentially permanent positions than post- docs. That last happened in the mid-1990s past the turn of the century. Note that the unemployment rate for physics PhD recipients has hovered around 5% for more than 20 years.

In January, we will examine these data by citizenship. Susan White is the Interim Director...

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