While the info came from MLA, I found this at the University of Wisconsin: Steven’s Point site.
According to the MLAâ€™s â€œMidyear Report on the 2009-10 Job Information List,â€ about 1,000 people have earned a Ph.D. in English each year since 1995 [emphasis added]. Meanwhile, about 400 tenure-track jobs in English have been available each year (plus or minus 50-100) [emphasis added]. The discrepancy between these two numbers means that the market for tenure-track academic jobs in English is very competitive, and has been for some time. On the other hand, the vast majority of English Ph.D.â€™s find jobs of some kind. The MLAâ€™s most recent survey of Ph.D. placement indicates that of those who earned a Ph.D. in 2004:
49.4% found tenure-track jobs
20.5% found full-time non-tenure track teaching positions
8.7% found other types of academic jobs (i.e., administration)
6.7% found jobs outside higher education
6.1% found part-time non-tenure-track teaching positions
5.2% were awarded postgraduate fellowships to continue their research
3.3% were unemployed
While no one can reliably predict the future of the job market in this or any other field, shrinking budgets for education (especially in the public sector) suggest that this situation is not likely to improve right away. While there are things you can do to strengthen your prospects of landing a tenure-track job, there is nothing you can do to guarantee that outcome. Numerous brilliant, talented English Ph.D.s fail to get hired into the kinds of positions for which they have qualified themselves. Also, because jobs are scarce, few Ph.D.s can pick and choose among locations, and must be flexible about where they will live.