How much do US Economists make?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of a woman using a laptop in a table.

How much do US Economists make?

Those who are thinking about entering the field of economics frequently have the question of what the average wage for an economist is. How much money do economists typically make every year? There is not a single, predetermined amount.

In spite of the variations, it is possible to classify jobs in this industry and the pay rates linked with them into three main categories.

With the help of these, we can get a significantly more accurate picture of the total pay rates at the various levels of the economist profession. The following is a breakdown of the three primary levels, along with the normal pay rates associated with each level.

Economics Grad, Entry-Level

Fresh out of college with a degree in economics is a significant asset to many different companies. As a starting economist, you will be responsible for doing many of the fundamental studies that are necessary to make intelligent business decisions.

There is a significant demand for people with these skills in a very wide variety of business sectors, including education, production companies, investment organizations, and many more. So, exactly how much money can one anticipate making after they reach this level?

A beginning economist can expect to make approximately $50,000 per year, give or take a few thousand dollars.

Tenured Economist

We would regard tenured economists as those economists who are at the mid-level for this profession. The tenured economist, much like the entry-level economist, is responsible for performing vital assessments for a large range of different types of businesses.

However, at this stage of the game, these economists typically have a greater degree of responsibility than their peers who are also employed in entry-level positions.

The tenured economist frequently plays the function of a supervisor, presiding over the work of entry-level economists and monitoring their performance. If you keep working at this pace, your annual salary might reach up to $80,000.

Senior Economist, Econometrician

The senior economist is not only the one with the highest level of responsibility but also the one who receives the highest salary. At this level, it is usual for one to have oversight and/or positional supremacy over all of the other economists employed by the organization.

Young economists working on his table.

In many cases, the senior economist acts as the final filter of information before it is presented to upper-level decision-makers in a corporation. At this level as well, the very similar econometrician uses econometrics to solve the most in-depth and complex questions that a company may have in the form of profound mathematics.

US economists make approximately $160,000 when working at these higher levels of economics.

What is the usual work environment of economists?

How would you describe the typical working conditions of an economist? In the year 2021, economists occupied approximately 16,900 occupations. The federal government, excluding the postal service, was the greatest employer of economists during that year, accounting for 28% of all jobs in the field. Following closely after 17% is the field of managerial, scientific, and technological consulting services.

Services related to scientific research and development come in second at 12%, followed by the state government at 10%, omitting educational institutions and healthcare facilities. At a rate of 5%, the industry of banking and insurance is the company that most frequently hires economists.

View of a desk with papers placed next to a each other next to a laptop.

The majority of the time, economists operate alone in an office setting. However, a significant number of economists engage in cooperative work with other economists and statisticians, frequently operating in teams.

While some economists can perform their jobs from the comfort of their own homes, others may be obliged to travel for business or to attend professional conferences.

A significant portion of an economist’s workday is spent utilizing computers for data analysis, literature evaluation, or the writing of conclusions.

What are the 10 states where economists earn the most money?

What are the top 10 states where US economists make the most money? The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national average annual wage for an economist is $116,020. This figure is more than twice as high as the average annual salary for all occupations, which is $51,960.

Nevertheless, the typical income of an economist can vary quite a little from this estimate depending on the state in which you work. The annual salary of an economist in the ten lowest-paying states is, on average, about $55,000 less than the national average.

The following is a list of the top ten states in terms of the average annual salary for an economist:

  • New York- $127,520
  • Virginia- $126,080
  • Ohio- $125,490
  • California- $124,430
  • Massachusetts- $117,680
  • Maryland- $116,870
  • Missouri- $112,240
  • Georgia- $111,570
  • Illinois- $108,690
  • Texas- $106,480

What are the 10 states where economists earn the least money?

Where do US economists make the least amount of money? The ten states in which economists earn the least amount of money are primarily found in the South, Midwest, and Mountain divisions of the Western United States. These regions make up the bottom half of the country.

Even though economist wages are lower here, the overall cost of living is lower than the national average in these states. There are sixteen states in which the average economist salary is lower than the average salary for all of the United States by more than thirty thousand dollars.

The following is a list of the 10 states with the lowest incomes for economists:

  • Idaho- $61,130
  • West Virginia- $68,430
  • South Carolina- $68,550
  • Kansas- $72,600
  • New Hampshire- $74,570
  • Arkansas- $75,380
  • Mississippi- $75,450
  • Oklahoma- $76,500
  • Nevada- $79,170
  • Wisconsin- $80,070

There is reason to be optimistic, at least regarding West Virginia. The state’s average compensation for an economist has increased by an astounding 38.2% over the past five years, going from $49,500 in 2013 to $68,430 in 2018.

West Virginia’s salary trend is highly positive, in contrast to that of some other low-paying states, such as South Carolina, where incomes have decreased over the last five years.

Wages in West Virginia are, however, still substantially lower than the national average. The most significant decrease in economist salaries was seen in the state of Indiana, where the average yearly income fell from $198,120 in 2013 to $84,740 in 2018.

Can an economist be a millionaire?

Is it possible for an economist to make a million dollars? There are plenty of people who acquire economics degrees overseas, thus several million people are working in business who majored in economics.

In the United States, approximately 39,000 people earn economics degrees each year. Sixteen of them made it into the top 100 billionaires in the world. The odds may be better than winning the lottery. But still, most US economists make up to $80,000 maximum (on an annual basis).

3 MBA students talking to each other

Would obtaining a degree in economics be beneficial for someone on the route to becoming a millionaire? The research has a strong foundation here. Competition is a concept that economists study. The analysis of supply and demand already takes this into account.

Students will learn in their upper-level classes that certain goods compete not just with other goods that are similar to them but also with other things that can fulfill the same purpose.

How to become an economist?

How does one go about becoming an economist? Interested in how US economists make a living? In this section of the article, we will be discussing the academic requirements, work experience requirements, and personal attributes that are necessary to pursue a career in economics.

Academic requirements

To practice economics, one normally needs a master’s degree or even a doctorate. It is common practice for employers in the fields of business, research, or international organizations to require candidates to possess both a graduate degree and relevant professional experience.

In addition, classes that familiarize students with various statistical analysis programs are beneficial to the learning process.

Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a variety of disciplines, such as economics, business, or mathematics, are eligible to continue their education and get a master’s degree in economics.

a female college professor mentoring two students who are sitting in front of a computer

After receiving a bachelor’s degree, students may need to put in additional time and effort to acquire a doctoral degree in economics. This additional work may include conducting research in a specialized area.

Some entry-level economics occupations, such as those with the federal government, require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree to qualify for the post. ITobe considered for promotion to higher-level roles, one may be required to hold a graduate degree.

Other Experience

Internships that require interns to collect and analyze data, research economic topics and trends, and write reports on their findings can provide aspiring economists with significant experience that can help them become more competitive in the job market.

In addition, relevant experience, such as familiarity with the use of software for statistical analysis, can be useful.

Important Qualities / Personal Attributes

Analytical skills

To be successful as an economist, one needs the ability to carefully examine data, recognize trends, carry out complex computations, and develop reasonable conclusions. For instance, labor economists investigate how the consequences of various labor policies might be seen in the labor market.

Critical-thinking skills

To address difficult problems, economists need to have strong logical and reasoning skills. For instance, they could determine how changes in the economic climate might affect the company.

Speaking skills

Economists need to be able to articulate their research to others. They frequently deliver presentations to clients, some of whom may not have a background in economics, and explain reports to those clients.

Writing skills

Economists need to have the communication skills necessary to present their conclusions.

A significant number of US economists make reports for their colleagues or their clients, while others write articles for publication in journals or for the news media.

Should I major in Economics if I don’t like Math?

Should I study economics even though I find math to be difficult? The majority of universities that offer majors in economics will require students to have at least a fundamental understanding of mathematics. Despite this, one should not let this deter them from earning an undergraduate degree in economics.

In light of this, folks whose strong suit is not mathematics but who would still like to immerse themselves in the realm of economics have options available to them.

Because economics touches such a significant portion of our culture and society, studying it can be a very gratifying experience. There will always be opportunities for you to improve math skills and put what you were able to learn in your economics program to the test, regardless of whether you choose to concentrate on more specialized subfields of economics such as labor economics, environmental economics, or international economics.

What Are the Current Trends in Economist Salaries?

The current trends in economist salaries reveal a fascinating landscape that reflects the broader economic climate. In the United States, the salaries that US economists make are influenced by various factors, including industry, education, and experience.

Recent years have seen a steady increase in wages, particularly for those with specialized skills in emerging fields such as data analytics and environmental economics.

The demand for economists in the private sector has also surged, leading to competitive compensation packages. However, the landscape is not uniform across the country, with significant variations in what US economists make depending on the region and sector.

Recent salary surveys and reports

Recent salary surveys and reports provide valuable insights into the earnings of economists in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for economists was $108,350 in May 2020.

Various professional organizations and research institutions have conducted studies to analyze the factors affecting what US economists make. These reports highlight the importance of education, with Ph.D. holders earning significantly more than those with bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

The surveys also underscore the impact of experience, with seasoned professionals commanding higher salaries. These findings are instrumental in guiding both aspiring economists and employers in understanding the compensation landscape.

Impact of economic conditions

The salaries that US economists make are inextricably linked to the broader economic conditions. During periods of economic growth and expansion, businesses and governments often invest in economic research and analysis, leading to higher demand and wages for economists.

Two unidentified person working on a table.

Conversely, in times of recession or economic uncertainty, hiring may slow down, affecting salary growth. Global economic factors, such as trade policies and international financial crises, can also influence the earnings of economists in the U.S.

The interplay between the macroeconomic environment and individual salaries illustrates the complex and dynamic nature of the field.

Gender and diversity in the field

Gender and diversity in the field of economics have become increasingly important considerations in understanding what US economists make. Studies have revealed persistent wage gaps between male and female economists, even when controlling for factors such as education and experience.

Efforts are being made to address these disparities through initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion within the profession. Additionally, organizations are recognizing the value of diverse perspectives in economic analysis and are taking steps to ensure equitable compensation.

The focus on gender and diversity not only contributes to a fairer and more inclusive profession but also enriches the quality of economic research and decision-making.


The exploration of how much US economists make has unveiled a multifaceted and dynamic landscape. Salaries are influenced by a myriad of factors, including education, experience, industry, geographic location, and broader economic conditions.

The insights garnered from recent surveys and reports, along with an understanding of the impact of gender and diversity, provide a comprehensive view of the earnings landscape.

As the field continues to evolve, the question of what US economists make will remain an essential consideration for both professionals in the field and those aspiring to join it.

Encouragement for those pursuing a career in economics

For those considering or actively pursuing a career in economics, the prospects are encouraging. The diverse opportunities and the potential earnings that US economists make offer a rewarding and intellectually stimulating career path.

Whether in academia, government, the private sector, or research institutions, economists play a vital role in shaping policies and understanding complex economic phenomena. The field welcomes individuals with a passion for analysis, problem-solving, and a desire to make a meaningful impact on society.

With dedication, continuous learning, and a focus on areas of growing demand, aspiring economists can look forward to a fulfilling and prosperous career.

Segue to AdmissionSight

To be able to put “economist” on a business card is a pretty neat thing to be able to say what you do for a living. It may be due to the aura of authority that the title “economist” carries with it.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment of economists will increase at a rate that is faster than the average. In total, approximately 1,700 new jobs for economists will be created between the years 2018 and 2028, representing an increase of 8%.

We at AdmissionSight will be glad to assist you in realizing your goal of attending the prestigious university of your choosing so that you can study economics and fulfill your dream career.

AdmissionSight is the premier college admissions consulting firm, with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get admission to their top-choice universities. Get in touch with us immediately to arrange a no-cost initial consultation.



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