The Report of Ad Hoc Committee on the Job Market in the May 2011 AER (pp 744-6) has four sections:
"The number of participating job candidates held steady at roughly 1,000 signalers per year. About two-thirds of those in the job market signal each year."
"We note that at least a small number of ads in JOE this season solicit signals (e.g., “Candidates will be interviewed at ASSA (Denver) and are encouraged to use AEA signaling”).
"Survey results indicate that about half of the employers who register for the scramble initiate an interview as a result of the scramble. It is difficult to count the number of job placements initiated by the scramble. For the 2009–2010 job market, it appears that there were at least 15 job placements facilitated by the scramble."
III. Letters of Reference;
"The Committee is keeping an eye on the proliferation of websites to which letters of reference for new PhDs have to be uploaded, with many universities having their own sites."
"The Job Market Committee has considered whether the AEA ought to recommend a short list of application service providers and suggest that departments use one of just a few Internet portals, eschewing the unique url approach that is so costly. However, economics departments may not always be in a position to override their human resources departments, which seek other advantages by having all the jobs offered by their university handled on the same software. In this case it might be useful to press for common interfaces, so that centralized job market services that provide efficiencies to letter writers could upload letters to centralized university-specific services (many of which depend on only a small numberof software providers).
IV. Applications to Ph.D. programs
"There is a related issue not pertaining to the job market that affects a broader group of economics departments than just those that produce PhDs. It is the PhD admission process.
"The problem, even more than in the job market, is that the graduate school admission process usually is not under the control of the economics department. Often the platform and application apply to all PhD programs in the graduate school. The process stands in contrast to law schools and medical schools, which have centralized admissions forms and recommendation procedures. It is ironic that electronic processing of graduate school and job applications has increased the time required to apply and write letters in support of applicants."
Here's our original report:
Peter Coles, John Cawley, Phillip B. Levine, Muriel Niederle, Alvin E. Roth, and John J. Siegfried , " The Job Market for New Economists: A Market Design Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24,4 (Fall) 2010, 187-206.