What Do Economists Do?

The department encourages students to become familiar with the many sub-fields available within the diverse economics discipline, and consider their interests and preferred career path to determine how and where they might want to specialize. 

  • Microeconomists study the supply and demand decision of individuals and firms, such as how profits can be maximized and how much of a good or service consumers will demand at a certain price. 
  • Industrial/Organizational Economists study the market structure of particular industries in terms of the number of competitors, and the market decisions of competitive firms and monopolies. These economists may also be concerned with antitrust policy and its impact on market structure.
  • Macroeconomists study historical trends in the whole economy and forecast future trends in areas such as unemployment, inflation, economic growth, productivity, and investment. 
  • Financial Economists study the money and banking system and the effects of rising interest rates. 
  • Public Finance Economists primarily are involved in studying the role of the government in the economy and the effects of tax cuts, budget deficits, and welfare policies.
  • International Economists study international financial markets, exchange rates, and the effects of various trade policies such as tariffs.
  • Labor Economists study the supply and demand for labor and the determination of wages. These economists also try to explain the reasons for unemployment, and the effects on labor markets of changing demographic trends such as an aging population and increasing immigration. 
  • Econometricians are involved in all areas of economics and use mathematical techniques such as calculus, game theory, and regression analysis to formulate economic models. These models help to explain economic relationships and are used to develop forecasts related to the nature and length of business cycles, the effects of a specific rate of inflation on the economy, the effects of tax legislation on unemployment levels, and other economic phenomena. Many economists have applied these fundamental areas of economics to more narrow areas with specific applications such as health, education, agriculture, urban and regional economics, law, history, energy, and the environment. 

Where do you find Economists?

  • Economists in Business
    Economists working for corporations are involved primarily in microeconomic issues such as forecasting consumer demand and sales of the firm’s products. Economists working for corporations might also analyze their competitors’ growth and market share and advise their company on how to handle the competition. Other economists working for corporations monitor legislation passed by Congress, such as environmental and worker safety regulations, and assess its impact on their business.
  • Economists in Banking/Financial Services
    Economists provide corporate management information needed to make decisions on pricing of company products, including the profitability of new product lines. Banks employ economists to not only study the macro conditions that make our economy work and make predictions, but also study the micro elements of business and make projections.
  • Economists in Government
    Almost all government agencies hire economists. In the federal government, both Congress and the Executive Branch have economic advisors. Most departments also have agencies established to perform economic research and analysis. For example, the Labor Department relies on the Bureau of Labor Statistics to act as the principal fact-finding agency in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. The Commerce Department relies on accountants preparing estimates that illuminate key national, international and regional aspects of the U.S. economy. The Department of Agriculture relies on the Agricultural Research Service and the Environmental Protection Agency relies on the Office of Policy, Planning and Development. State and local governments also hire economists to perform similar tasks as their federal counterparts.
  • Economists in Academia
    Nearly every national or international university, as well as many community colleges and secondary schools, is in need of skilled educators in economics. In higher education, an economist may conduct research and publish journal articles in addition to their role as a professor.