Economists study how civilizations utilize land, labor, and raw materials to produce and distribute goods and services. They conduct research and observe trends to forecast their economic interpretations. Economists study inflation, employment levels, taxes, business cycles, interest rates, and many other topics.

Economists conduct surveys and use mathematical modeling to make economic interpretations. They also write reports and prepare charts to present their data. Economists must also present their data in a way that the general public can understand. Many economists provide economic commentary on television.

Many economists specialize. Microeconomists research supply and demand issues. Industrial economists or organizational economists study how firms in the same industry compete and how the business decisions of profitable firms and monopolies affect the economy. Macroeconomists focus on historical economic trends and hypothesize future inflation, unemployment, investment, and productivity. Monetary or financial economists focus on the banking system and how interest rate changes affect the economy. International economists study international economic issues such as trade, tariffs, and exchange rates. Labor and demographic economists study supply and demand labor issues as well as determining the factors that lead to unemployment. Public finance economists study how government policies, such as welfare programs and tax cuts, affect the economy. Econometricians use mathematics to develop economic forecasts and explain trends.

Economists apply economics to law, history, energy, the environment, education, and many other disciplines. The majority of economists are concerned with real world applications. For example, economists working for a company might attempt to determine their customers' consumption patterns, and some economists review government policies, such as environmental legislation, to determine how the economy will be affected. Companies with international braches might hire economists to monitor the political situations in countries where they conduct business.

Economists employed by research institutions or consulting firms often perform the same duties as other economists, but economists working as consultants perform macroeconomic analysis, collect data, analyze trends, and use this data to determine future growth, unemployment, inflation, etc. Their predictions and analyses is often published in newspapers and magazines.

The federal government employs many economists. These economists collect data about the United States' economy. Economists working for the Department of Commerce collect and interpret data about the production, distribution, and consumption of commodities manufactured in America and in foreign countries. Economists working for the Department of Labor collect and interpret data on wages, employment, and prices.

Economists working for government agencies determine how government policies will affect the economy. Government economists consult public officials about the possible economic consequences of such policy decisions as tax cuts or deregulations. Economists working for state governments may specialize in demographic factors such as projecting future growth for prisons and school district populations to determine future state government spending needs.

Education and Training
Economists usually have set schedules. Economists work by themselves preparing reports and charts, but they may be a part of a team of researchers. Many work overtime to meet deadlines, but they may be interrupted to attend meetings or respond to data requests.

Education and Training
An economist is expected to have an advanced degree – a master’s or a PH.D. To obtain a job in many organizations requires a good mix of graduate education and appropriate work experience.

A solid background in math is important so many economists received their degree in that field. It is often the case that a PH.D. will require additional study after graduation with a bachelor’s degree and includes detailed research in a field of choice.

There is some entry-level employment available for economists where the minimum requirement would be a bachelor’s degree. For advancement, it may be appropriate to earn an advanced degree first.

There are many jobs available for those who earn an economics bachelor’s degree, such as a financial analyst or a research assistant.

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As of May 2012, a median salary for an economist was around $91,860. The top 10 percent of earners bring home $155,490 on average, while the bottom 10 percent earn around $51,410.

Job Outlook
Employment growth for economists in the next ten years is expected to be around 14 percent, which is about the average of most other jobs. An economist can be utilized to forecast business and sales, as well as recognizing and analyzing new economic trends. This will increase demand for economists. So will new laws and regulations in the global economy, in addition to increased competitiveness in the industry. Areas such as management and professional consulting in the private industry should be a thriving environment for increasing employment opportunities.

The largest employer in the economist field is the federal government, but those opportunities are expected to be limited as projections indicate a decline in jobs.

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