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Do Economists Work for the Government?

Economists work at all levels of government, including federal, state, regional, and community governments.

Government economists collect and analyze data about the United States or local economy, and use that information to advise on policies and projects.

Learn more below about this exciting career in government and if it could be a suitable occupation for you.

Do Economists Work For The Government?

One of the most favored economist jobs is a position in government.

Economists perform a broad range of duties, revolving around their central role of researching, analyzing, and producing insights about the economy.

Typically, government economists focus on how specific policies or conditions can affect sectors of the economy and the economy as a whole.

They may study unemployment, welfare, inflation, tax cuts, gross domestic product (GDP), productivity, investments, the stock market, or trade, just to name a few of the most critical domains.

They may also use past data to predict how a policy affects or changes the outcome.

Economists will use their collected information to explain and advise particular actions taken by the government.

What Do Economists In Government Do?

There are many different government jobs available for economists.

A few popular positions include:

  • Junior Economist: A junior economist collects and compiles information. They perform tasks, prepare documents, and create presentations for senior economists and other team members.
  • Senior Economist: A senior economist takes on complex projects or complicated economic domains. They perform deep research, analyze other reports, and advise government officials.
  • Economic Policy & Research Analyst: An economic policy & research analyst conducts research and analyses information related to economic policies.
  • Financial Analyst: A financial analyst collects and studies financial and statistical data.
  • Economics and Policy Director: An economics and policy director develops solutions to economic issues.
  • Economic Statistician: An economic statistician comes up with ways to collect accurate data.
  • Policy Officer: A policy officer provides recommendations for economic policies.
  • Economic Development Officer: An economic development officer develops recommendations for economic growth.

How Many Economists Work For The Federal Government?

28% of economists work for the federal government, while 10% of economists work for the state government.

As there are around 16,900 economists in the United States, assume 4732 federal government economists.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number to rise over the next decade, with nearly 5000 federal government economists by 2031.

The Pros And Cons Of Working For The Government?

There are many advantages to working for the government including:

  • Public service oriented work
  • Excellent retirement plan
  • Student loan repayment options
  • Top-tier health and life insurance packages
  • Vacation, leave and holidays
  • Job stability

Unfortunately, you may find some disadvantages such as:

  • Capped, standardized earning potential
  • Red tape around decision-making
  • Slow change in policies or projects
  • Seniority takes precedence

How To Become A Government Economist?

If you have an interest in becoming a government economist, you must complete a Master’s or Ph.D. in economics, finance, business, or a related academic domain.

You will need to have fairly high academic scores, displaying competency.

Most positions ask for a 3.0 GPA or higher.

For most government positions, you will also need to have substantial education or experience with:

  • Selecting appropriate research methods or analysis methods for relevant data
  • Analyzing information and compiling data into reports or presentations
  • Developing models or graphs representing conditions and predictions
  • Making information-backed predictions
  • Presenting findings and insights in a clear, organized and detailed way
  • Understanding how different factors in society, politics, and international relations affect the economy

Additionally, government positions require applicants to be American citizens and pass a background check.

Depending on the government sector, applicants may also undergo a medical and psychological evaluation.

What Government Agency Hires Economists?

There are many government agencies and organizations that hire economists.

A few of the most popular hiring areas are:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • Census Bureau
  • International Trade Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Where Are Most Economists Employed?

Apart from the government, economists can also find a great number of jobs in consulting services.

Agencies dedicated to consulting hire 17% of all economists.

Additionally, institutions that perform scientific research and development hire 12% of economists.

Surprisingly, finance and insurance firms only hire 5% of economists.

Final Thoughts

As a career seeker, you may enjoy working in the government, especially if you wish have impact on society, communities, and individuals.

Federal and state government jobs also have additional career benefits making a favorable choice.

If working as a government economist does not appeal to you, there are also plenty of opportunities available through consulting firms, research facilities, and finance firms.