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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjXC3QyTHNA.
Quick Facts: Economists
2022 Median Pay $113,940 per year
$54.78 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 17,600
Job Outlook, 2022-32 6% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 1,100

What Economists Do

Economists conduct research, prepare reports, and evaluate issues related to monetary and fiscal policy. They also may collect and analyze statistical data.

Work Environment

Economists typically work in an office setting, either independently or collaborating with a variety of other workers. Most economists work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become an Economist

Economists typically need at least a master’s degree to enter the occupation. However, some economists—primarily in government—qualify for entry-level positions with a bachelor’s degree. Others need a Ph.D.

Pay

The median annual wage for economists was $113,940 in May 2022.

Job Outlook

Employment of economists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 1,200 openings for economists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for economists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of economists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about economists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Economists Do About this section

Economists
Economists prepare reports, tables, and charts.

Economists conduct research, prepare reports, and evaluate issues related to monetary and fiscal policy. They also may collect and analyze statistical data.

Duties

Economists typically do the following:

  • Research economic issues related to education, the labor force, international trade, and other topics
  • Conduct surveys and collect data
  • Analyze data using mathematical models, statistical tools, and other software
  • Interpret and forecast trends, such as of financial markets
  • Advise businesses, governments, and individuals on problems related to fiscal policy or other economic topics
  • Present research in tables, graphs, and articles for academic journals, government publications, and other media

Economists analyze topics related to the production, distribution, and use (consumption) of goods and services. They work in or across a variety of fields, such as business, health, and the environment. For example, some economists study the cost of products, healthcare, or energy, while others examine employment levels and trends, business cycles, inflation, or interest rates.

Economists study historical trends and make forecasts, using software to analyze data. The focus of their research may vary, depending on their employer

Economists who work in federal, state, and local government may collect and analyze data about the economy, including employment, prices, productivity, and wages. For example, they may evaluate various economic policies or proposals to inform policymakers about the impact of laws and regulations.

Business economists help managers understand the economy to inform their decision making. For example, economists may analyze consumer demand and sales to help a company maximize its profits.

Economists also work for international organizations, research firms, and consulting firms. They may present their findings to a variety of audiences or publish their analyses and forecasts in newspapers, journals, or other media.

Work Environment About this section

Economists
Economists often work independently, typically in an office setting.

Economists held about 17,600 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of economists were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service 27%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 20
Scientific research and development services 11
State government, excluding education and hospitals 10
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 7

Economists typically work in an office setting. They often work independently, but they also may collaborate with data scientists, statisticians, or other specialists. Some economists may be required to travel, such as to attend conferences.  

Work Schedules

Most economists work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become an Economist About this section

Economists
Communication skills are important for economists, since they sometimes present research to colleagues.

Economists typically need at least a master’s degree to enter the occupation. However, some economists—primarily in government—qualify for positions with a bachelor’s degree. Others need a Ph.D.

Education

Economists typically need a master’s degree. Positions in business, research, or international organizations may require a master’s degree or Ph.D. and work experience.

To pursue an advanced degree in economics, program applicants may need to have completed undergraduate coursework in subjects such as economics or mathematics.

Candidates who have a bachelor’s degree with sufficient course credits in economics, statistics, or mathematics may qualify for some entry-level economist positions, including jobs with the federal government. Courses that introduce students to statistical analysis software also may be helpful. An advanced degree is sometimes required or preferred for higher level positions.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Economists must be able to review data and observe patterns to draw logical conclusions.

Communication skills. Economists must be able to explain their work through presentations and in written reports. Their audiences may vary from colleagues and other economists to those who do not have a background in economics.

Computer skills. Economists often use statistical analysis and other software to analyze data.

Critical-thinking skills. Economists must use sound reasoning to solve complex problems.

Math skills. Economists use mathematics, including calculus and linear algebra, to develop models and analyses.

Pay About this section

Economists

Median annual wages, May 2022

Economists

$113,940

Social scientists and related workers

$84,000

Total, all occupations

$46,310

 

The median annual wage for economists was $113,940 in May 2022. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $62,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $207,230.

In May 2022, the median annual wages for economists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $130,160
Federal government, excluding postal service 130,100
Scientific research and development services 106,720
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 86,910
State government, excluding education and hospitals 80,520

Most economists work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook About this section

Economists

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Economists

6%

Social scientists and related workers

5%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of economists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 1,200 openings for economists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Organizations across many industries use economic analysis and quantitative methods to study and forecast business, sales, and other market trends. Employment demand is expected to be strong for these workers, as organizations increasingly turn to economists to apply analysis of big data to pricing, advertising, and other areas. The increasing complexity of the global economy also is expected to support demand for economists.

Employment projections data for economists, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Economists

19-3011 17,600 18,700 6 1,100 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of economists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2022 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Actuaries Actuaries

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to analyze the economic costs of risk and uncertainty.

Bachelor's degree $113,990
Budget analysts Budget Analysts

Budget analysts help public and private organizations plan their finances.

Bachelor's degree $82,260
data-scientists Data Scientists

Data scientists use analytical tools and techniques to extract meaningful insights from data.

Bachelor's degree $103,500
Financial analysts Financial Analysts

Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals in decisions about expending money to attain profit.

Bachelor's degree $96,220
Market research analysts Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study consumer preferences, business conditions, and other factors to assess potential sales of a product or service.

Bachelor's degree $68,230
Mathematicians Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.

Master's degree $99,960
Operations research analysts Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts use mathematics and logic to help solve complex issues.

Bachelor's degree $85,720
Political scientists Political Scientists

Political scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems.

Master's degree $128,020
Postsecondary teachers Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One $80,840
Survey researchers Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and analyze data.

Master's degree $60,410
Urban and regional planners Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities.

Master's degree $79,540
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Economists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm (visited January 11, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2023

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.