As a PhD who graduated now 9 years ago, I know a lot of youngerish PhDs in the humanities as well; and I can state that out of 6 people I know personally who have gotten long-term/tenure track academic jobs in history or politics in the last 5 years, and who were active both on the North American and European markets, that 6 out of 6 have in fact gotten jobs in Europe.
It’s a relatively small sample, and a personal sample, and thus biased, but, it gives me pause; especially since 5 of the 6 are in fact North Americans. The one European in the sample was looking actively in the US and Canada and had several temporary appointments there, and many connections, but still got a job in Europe rather than North America.
So, in brief, it looks like the disintegration of the American academy, especially regarding entry-level professor jobs, is really taking its toll: many of the best, brightest, and most motivated people in the humanities are saying sayonara to the US: it is no longer the land of opportunity: its managers have gone too job-cutting happy, and there is no scope to become middle class there any more, as a teacher or professor, unless you’re a mathematician, or hard scientist, in which case you have to put up with ridiculously long hours and continuous fatigue in order to pay for your middle class or upper middle class lifestyle.
Guess what? When you cut the professoriate into ribbons, there will be no professoriate left, and your talent will flee. In my personal experience, this for the moment means that talent is fleeing to those more progressive parts of Europe where they still have jobs for people, and are willing to hire foreign talent in order to improve their own programmes. And it’s working. The programmes in the Netherlands where I am working are definitely getting better by the year, in part because they are deliberately mimicking the American system, and increasingly hiring foreigners from English-speaking universities, which have traditionally dominated the global top 100 rankings.
So yeah, this is also helping the rest of the world to catch up, as the US crashes and burns. Hey, don’t want any humanities faculty? Well, you know from the rest of this site how essential this has always been (or its equivalent) to a free society, with human rights, etc. The rest, as they say, is history…