Economists are concerned with how society uses resources such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery to produce goods and services for consumption and production in the present and future. Economists study how economic systems address three basic questions: “What shall we produce?” “How shall we produce it?” and “For whom shall we produce it?” The economist then compiles, processes, and interprets the answers to these questions. There are about 13,000 economists employed in the United States.
Economists Job Description
Economists grapple with many issues relating to the supply and demand of goods and services and the means by which they are produced, traded, and consumed. While most economists either teach at the university level or perform research for government agencies, many work for individual for-profit or not-for-profit organizations.
Economics professors teach basic macro- and microeconomics courses as well as courses on advanced topics such as economic history and labor economics. (Macroeconomics deals with the “big picture” of economics as a whole, and microeconomics deals with individual companies and persons.) They also perform research, write papers and books, and give lectures, contributing their knowledge to the advancement of the discipline.
Government economists study national economic trends and problems; their analyses often suggest possible changes in government policy to address such issues.
For-profit and not-for-profit companies both employ economists to assess connections of organizational policy to larger business conditions and economic trends. Management often will rely on this research to make financial and other kinds of decisions that affect the company.
In their education, economists usually specialize in a particular area of interest. While the specialties of university economists range across the entire discipline, other economists’ expertise generally falls into one of several categories. Financial economists examine the relationships among money, credit, and purchasing power to develop monetary policy and forecast financial activity. International economists analyze foreign trade to bring about favorable trade balances and establish trade policies. Labor economists attempt to forecast labor trends and recommend labor policies for businesses and government entities. Industrial economists study the way businesses are internally organized and suggest ways to make maximum use of assets. Environmental economists study the relationships between economic issues and the allocation and management of natural resources. Agricultural economists study food production, development in rural areas, and the allocation of natural resources.
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