Economist Job Description
Economists are experts in the field of economics, which is the study of the production and distribution of resources and goods. Economists may be employed by a wide range of industries and their skills may be used for different and varying projects. Some may collect data, analyze reports or provide forecasting services. Others may decide to teach in a college or university.
Economists work for various organizations such as research firms, private corporations and the U.S. government. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an average job growth of 6 percent for Economists through 2024, adding about 1,200 jobs in this area during this period. The use of Economists is expected to increase in the coming years, however the federal government, which is one of the leading employers of Economists is expected to reduce federal funding over the next decade, thus likely limiting the amount of jobs produced for Economists.
Economist Duties and Responsibilities
The type of company an Economist works for will greatly determine their duties and responsibilities. There are, however, a couple primary duties all Economists can expect to perform. A review of current job listings identified the following main responsibilities.
One of the Economist’s main duties is to research economic issues and trends. Using various methodologies and sources, Economists must be able to obtain recent and relevant data for their employers. The way they go about this will differ depending on the organization they work for and the type of Economist they are. Most Economists utilize the Internet to conduct some research, while others seek out peer-reviewed essays and articles. Economists may interview subjects, scan databases or create and administer surveys. The methods abound and most Economists will use a variety of them throughout the course of their career.
Locating information is just the first half of the Economist’s job. Once they find the data they sought, it must still be analyzed or interpreted. Economists spend a great deal of their time making sense of the data they have collected and finding ways to represent their finds. For some this may result in a scientific paper, for others it may take the form of a presentation for management or a forecast report. The job will specify how the Economist is to share the information, but all Economists are tasked with this in some form or another.
Many Economists help to create or draft policies aimed at solving economic issues their research has uncovered. They may take an active role in policy drafting or may be an advisor to businesses or the government in their policy making efforts.
Economists must be self-driven individuals with a knack for investigative work. They must be highly detailed and very well organized with the ability to communicate well in writing and verbally. In addition to these traits, employers look for applicants with the following skillsets.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Economists with these core skills. If you want to work as a Economist, focus on the following.
- Highly proficient in Microsoft Office Suite, especially Excel
- Expertise in economic trends and matters
- Knowledge of research methodologies and techniques
- Experience with statistical software
- Data analysis experience
- Experience in forecasting trends and markets
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your repertoire of skills and broaden your career options.
- Doctorate in economics or related field
- Previous experience working as an analyst or advisor of economic issues
There are some helpful and informational resources available on the Web for those interested in becoming an Economist. We scoured the internet and found these links full of learning opportunities and the latest industry news.
On the Web
The Economist – This popular mainstream magazine covers more than just economics and is a great source for breaking news and trends.
The International Economy Magazine – A magazine that covers the trends and going-ons of economies throughout the globe. A great resource for those practicing economics.
Real Time Economics – This blog is maintained by the Wall Street Journal and offers daily tips and news on developing economic situations throughout the world.
@JediEconomist – Want a humorous but informational source for economic news? This strange mashup of Star Wars references and economic news is entertaining and educational at the same time.
@GreenEconomists – This feed is maintained by the Green Economics Institute, a group working for global movement for change reforming economics.
@KingEconomist – Stephen King, no not the horror writer, the Economist and author of economic books, fills his feed with global economic news and developments.
The Economics Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained) – This essential resource covers everything you need to know about economics using easy to understand language, useful diagrams and graphics and real life examples.
Economix: How Our Economy Works (and Doesn’t Work), in Words and Pictures – This quirky graphic novels brings the history of economics and the present day practices to life with fun but informative illustrations and stories.
American Economic Association – The AEA was organized in 1885 and incorporated in 1923. It boasts a membership of more than 18,000 Economists across the nation and offers a wealth of resources, education and information.
National Association of Business Economics – Founded in 1959, NABE is the premier professional association of business economics. They offer networking venues, educational opportunities, research and conferences to their members.
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