What Do Economists Do?

"I am deeply interested in a career that has to do with the economy and the financial markets. I also find doing surveys, collecting data and analyzing statistical information quite rewarding. I talked to our guidance counselor in school and she said I should consider getting an economics degree in college so that I can work towards becoming an economist. This sounds like a very interesting idea so I’d like to get to know more about this profession. What exactly does an economist do?"

asked by Richard P. from Manchester, New Hampshire

Economists are professionals who apply their knowledge of economic theory to provide insights on how goods and resources are being produced and distributed. To be able to shed light on various economic issues affecting the country and the world, they conduct surveys, collect data and analyze the data through the use of statistical methods and mathematical models.

The data and corresponding analysis they have done on it are then interpreted to come up with economic forecasts, market trends and determine their effects on the overall economy. With the results they have obtained, they then provide advice to businesses, governments, private organizations and individuals on matters pertaining to the economy.

It should be worth noting that the economic analysis done by economists is not only confined to the economy. Their analysis and evaluation are also applied to fields like education, health and the environment. They also examine how the costs of products, the business cycle, employment levels, taxation, interest rates and inflation affect the various sectors of society. Economists today now use software programs, spreadsheets and database management programs in order to come up with their analysis.

The most important part of the work of economists comes after they have synthesized information based on their research and use these as bases to recommend solutions or design policies to economic issues. They can do this in a variety of ways— by meeting with officials, presenting position papers, writing articles in academic journals or other publications and giving interviews in various media sources.

A lot of economists are employed by the federal, state and local governments. Those working in the federal government focus their data gathering and analysis efforts on the US economy. They look into pertinent data on employment, prices, productivity and wages as well as project the government’s budget. They also give advice to policymakers on the possible effect of proposed laws, budget deficits and welfare policies.

Economists working in the private sector are employed with corporations. Their role is to help company management understand how events in the economy will impact their business operations. In particular, economists analyze consumer demand and sales in order for the company to improve its bottom line. Some economists are also hired by think tanks and research companies where their primary responsibility is analyzing different issues in the economy and making forecasts.

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the United Nations also hire economists. Some economists also impart their knowledge to future economists by working as part-time college instructors.

Career Spotlight: Economist

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