As pointed out here many times before, archaeology is a bad career choice as the labour market is tiny and ridiculously overpopulated. I mainly keep tabs on the academic subset of this labour market. But via Alun I’ve received news that UK contract archaeology, the business where you remove and document sites that get in the way of land development, is in poor shape because of the economic recession. The Institute for Archaeologists announces that one in six jobs in contract archaeology has been lost since the start of the recession, with more losses likely in the near future.
In Sweden, there has been a tendency for archaeological unemployment to vary in counterphase with that of other professions. In other words, when everybody else experiences a boom, we get a bust, and vice versa. This is because in a quasi-socialist state, the government usually invests in public works to combat unemployment during a recession, and public works generate a need for contract archaeology. But I guess it’s been a long time since the Labour Party in the UK advocated quasi-socialism. And judging from all the closed shops I saw in Chester back in February, the recession seems to have hit the UK much harder than Sweden. (My crappy mutual fund has gained 7% in the past two months, yay!)
But still, this is actually unimportant news to would-be archaeologists. Because when there are 10 000 archaeologists and 600 jobs, it makes no difference if 100 of those jobs disappear. The only reasonable way to do archaeology and have a good life is to work four days a week as a doctor / lawyer / engineer, and spend Fridays and weekends doing amateur archaeology.