Economist  What They Do

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Economists Career Video

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dotAn economist is an analyst who studies the world of finances. Economists do research, prepare reports and devise economic forecasts.

dotThis work is not just about dollars and cents. It's really about analyzing human behavior. So, being an economist involves using a bit of psychology and a lot of applied mathematics, says Jane Leuthold, an economist at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

dotEconomists work with applied math and statistics. Some economists develop means of collecting economic data. Others interpret and analyze the data to produce usable statistics.

dotEconomists find jobs in all sorts of businesses. They work in banking and financial corporations. They also find work in other industries unrelated to financial services. Many also work in government, for think-tanks and in the world of academia as instructors and professors.

dotWhat issues an economist works on will depend on where the economist works. For example, a government economist might work on issues like energy policies, unemployment, inflation and interest rates. An economist working in the private sector will work on issues that are of interest to that particular area of the economy.

dotEconomists in business and government are often referred to as "practical economists." That's because they work with everyday realities and practicalities, not economic theory.

dotEconomists who work at universities combine teaching duties with research. University economists may be referred to as "theoretical economists," because they work with mathematical models of economic theories.

Economists who work in universities may teach for six to nine hours per week. The rest of the time is spent preparing lectures, conducting research or consulting.

dotEconomists who work in business or government may work 35- to 40-hour weeks with fairly regular hours.

dotThe ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines is key to the success of an economist. Whether you work for government, industry or academia, you have to produce that information on time or else your reputation will suffer.

dotEconomists who hold senior positions may have to do some traveling. They may also have to prepare speeches and even testify before government committees!

dotEconomists who work in government may find themselves caught up in political battles. That's because they may have to give politicians advice they don't want to hear, says Jeffery Green, a professor of economics.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Analyze the world of economics

  • This work involves studying human behavior
  • Economists find jobs in all sorts of businesses
  • A PhD in economics is strongly recommended