People in the science job of economist work with surveys, statistics, and mathematical models. Economists study how society uses labor, land, and raw materials to produce goods and services. They conduct research, analyze data, and use models to forecast future trends.

Economists can specialize in certain areas. Microeconomists study individuals and businesses to see how they use supply and demand to maximize profits. Industrial economists apply these same principles across entire industries. Macroeconomists research the economies of countries to predict factors such as unemployment, productivity, economic growth, and inflation. Financial economists concentrate on the financial industry, while international economists look at the worldwide economy. Many economists use their specialty to work in fields such as environmental issues, agriculture, health education, energy, policy, and law.

A few positions are available for economists with bachelor’s degrees. However, most jobs require at least a master’s degree, and those with doctoral degrees can hold advanced positions in private industry, government, or universities. A PhD is needed for research occupations.

Economists may work as part of a team, but they often work alone in office settings. Some time may be spent in the field collecting data. Then, they spend much of their time analyzing that data that they collected and writing reports on their findings. They may have tight deadlines that require overtime work.

About 14,600 economists were employed in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Those hired by government agencies were 53 percent, with 31 percent in federal government jobs and 22% in state and local governments.

Economic positions are expected to grow at a slower rate than the average of all occupations. The BLS estimates 6 percent growth from 2008 to 2018. Growth will be highest in private industry, such as technical and scientific consulting firms. Many of these firms contract their services to government agencies.

Median salaries were posted at $83,590 in 2008. The average annual salary for economists in the federal government was $108,010. Some of this increase was due to economists working in higher cost areas.