The Economist's OfficeThe Economist's Office

The Economist's Office

If it’s everything economy you crave, then you might like to explore a career as an economist. An economist often spends time doing research, preparing and analyzing data and forecasting how the economy might change in the future. People rely on economists to let them know if the economy is improving or heading for trouble. Economists can study factors related to the economy, like jobs, interest rates, the stock market and taxes. They often work with numbers, charts and computers.

Economist Elizabeth Elmore is a professor of economics at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona. Elmore, a New Jersey native who graduated from Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, began laying the groundwork for her economics career back in high school when she took a calculus course. She later discovered her passion for economics while she was a math major at St. Mary’s College for Women in Notre Dame, Indiana. “As a junior, I took an introduction to macroeconomics course and could see the application of math and that’s when my interest was born,” says Elmore. “I went to Notre Dame as an economics grad student.”

Elmore specialized as a labor economist, skilled in the history of labor unions and eager to follow and analyze the market economy in the U.S. She has brought these skills to Richard Stockton, where she urges students to study economics. “Economics is one of the best majors you can pick because it is grounded in the liberal arts,” says Elmore. “It allows you to have a lot of flexibility in your career. You can work right after college in entry-level positions in economics like a staff economist doing statistical analysis. It prepares you for law school and for grad school in economics. It prepares you to get a masters in business and so many different areas like public policy.”

Nancy Mantell, an economist who runs an economic forecasting service at Rutgers, suggests the following for young people interested in becoming economists:

  • You  need to be interested in the economy
  • You need to get at least a master's and preferably a PhD.
  • You need very good math and statistical skills and the ability to make complicated information understandable to others.

Think economics might be for you? Get out your calculator because math is a must. “You absolutely have to have quantitative skills to be an economics major and to be a working economist,” says Elmore. “You don’t have to be an undergrad mathematics major, but you have to feel confident in your quantitative reasoning skills and statistics.”