Economists analyze the relationship between the supply of goods and services and the demand for them, and how goods and services are produced, distributed, and consumed. Many economics graduates employ their understanding of economics to pursue careers in business organizations in such areas as marketing analysis, financial analysis, forecasting, purchasing, pricing, production/cost analysis, or risk analysis. A strong understanding of economics enables the business economist to determine demand for the good or service, how much of the good should be supplied in a period, and the optimal price of the good or service. Economics graduates who pursue work in the public sector are able to assist in such practical matters as the control of inflation, business cycles, unemployment, as well as wage, tax, and tariff policies.
In the United States, and in other countries throughout the world, government policies and actions have a major economic impact. Economists are able to analyze and interpret these government economic policies, and if they affect purchasing power, price levels, employment levels, competitive forces, the balance of payments, or a host of other economic factors. The basic foundation of economics as a field of study rests on the fact that resources are limited, while wants and desires are unlimited. The use of limited resources to maximize consumer satisfaction, business profits, or net societal benefits is the central organizing principle of our economic society.
The economist helps business firms, individuals, and local, state, and federal government agencies in understanding how to organize and use economic resources most efficiently.
Career Opportunities in Economics
Since economics is diverse, it is widely recognized as providing a solid background for many jobs and professions. For careers in business, public administration, and government, the economics graduate is well trained to compete with majors in other business and liberal arts programs.
Large firms tend to have whole divisions dedicated to economic research, with a number of economists addressing specialized areas. Smaller firms, on the other hand, tend to hire only one or two economists to address a number of general areas: planning, forecasting, finance, and other duties.
The role of the economist may differ from that of the manager, but not always. Economists analyze data and provide information; the manager uses this information to make decisions. Today, the economists can not only analyze the data, but act upon it, too. This may explain why so many corporate CEO’s rise to their positions through the economics division.
For more information regarding a career in economics, see the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Occupational Outlook Handbook.”