Yes, economic development specialist jobs are in demand. The job market for analysts is projected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028.
|Year||# Of Jobs||% Of Population|
|Year||Avg. Salary||Hourly Rate||% Change|
Mouse over a state to see the number of active economic development specialist jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where economic development specialists earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.
|Rank||State||Population||# of Jobs||Employment/1000ppl|
|1||District of Columbia||693,972||177||26%|
|Rank||City||# of Jobs||Employment/1000ppl||Avg. Salary|
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of Nebraska - Omaha
The University of Tennessee - Knoxville
West Virginia State University
University of Houston-Downtown
The University of Texas at Arlington
University of Redlands
University of Nevada - Las Vegas
Dr. Dustin White Ph.D.: I think that the biggest trend that we should expect to see in the job market (both during the pandemic and after) is an acknowledgement that remote work can be effective in many kinds of jobs. This should lead to increased flexibility in location for job seekers. Previously, most companies were very reluctant to hire remote workers. The pandemic should have changed that opinion for many firms. If companies are reluctant to accept remote work and can't give a good reason why, they are likely to lose a competitive edge to more flexible workplaces.
Dr. Dustin White Ph.D.: Skills in quantitative analysis are probably the biggest standouts right now. Firms in pretty much every industry have learned that using data can give them an improved understanding of their customers and clients. Being able to think critically about data and make data-driven decisions will be the skills that most stand out to employers on a resume. At UNO, we have incorporated Business Analytics coursework into our Business Administration undergraduate programs, as well as into our MBA and MS Econ programs, to help our students gain this edge across the business spectrum.
Dr. Dustin White Ph.D.: I think that remote work has made this particular question less pressing, though there are certainly places where industries are focused (e.g., technology in Silicon Valley). I think that students need to discover their passion and then do some research to learn where companies in that field are at! I should also mention that all kinds of amazing work is being done here in Omaha, ranging from sports technology and ecommerce to transportation and defense!
College of Arts and Sciences
Brian Collins Ph.D.: Intercultural competency, critical thinking, and oral and written communications are the skills that will most stand out on the resumes of graduates of religious studies programs.
Brian Collins Ph.D.: Intercultural competency and critical thinking are absolutely essential to dealing with our increasingly diverse and fragmented society.
Brian Collins Ph.D.: Communicating your ideas clearly and concisely is a vital skill that we try to develop in religious studies programs.
Brian Collins Ph.D.: The ability to deal with change, the only constant in life, is the product of a humanities education and is also what puts people in the running for promotion within an organization or allows them to get hired into new and often largely undefined positions that require someone who can navigate the shifting sands.
Curtis Simon: I think it is hard to gauge the impact of the pandemic. We know that downturns in economic activity have a negative impact on cohorts entering the labor market, and historically, that negative impact persists in the form of depressed earnings for many years. So that's a guess.
Curtis Simon: The pandemic has had a structural impact -- personal service industries have taken a hit. Some of those industries were already in decline (e.g., movie theaters); others less obviously (restaurants). Structural changes that accompany downturns have a particularly negative impact on (un)employment into the future. It remains to be seen whether reversal of the pandemic will be accompanied by reversal of downturns in those service industries.
Dr. Marianne Wanamaker Ph.D.: Evidence suggests that graduating from college in a weak labor market has long-term impacts on labor market outcomes and may depress earnings for up to 10 years after graduation. One avenue for avoiding these effects that has typically been available is graduate school. But many students are finding graduate school unappetizing in the current higher education environment.
Dr. Marianne Wanamaker Ph.D.: There has been a steady push towards more analytic and data skills for undergraduates over the past decade. That emphasis appears to be here to stay.
Dr. Marianne Wanamaker Ph.D.: Any hands-on experience is a huge advantage in today's labor market. I always encourage my students to take as many project-based courses as they can. It gives you something tangible to talk about in an internship or job interview. Writing experience is also really helpful.
West Virginia State University
Dr. Mark Wilson: Biggest trends: the biggest trends in U.S. labor markets are expanding e-commerce and WFH (working from home). E-commerce growth continues a long-term trend, but this trend has accelerated with COVID. People who never bought or traded online have been brought into that space. And those who were familiar with e-commerce have extended their use. This extension involves traditional buying patterns (books, clothes) but now includes entertainment, religion and education. WFH has expanded, too. It had been growing due to the changing nature of work and improvements in computers and the Internet backbone. That growth has accelerated with COVID. For job seekers, recognition of these trends is vital.
Dr. Mark Wilson: Job skills that stand out: two skills that every job seeker should now cultivate are: proficiency with spreadsheets and proficiency with online conferencing (e.g., Zoom, Skype). Most graduates have low skills in spreadsheets and will be trying to learn these skills on-the-fly. Proficient spreadsheet users are able to take their skills to the next level. As for teleconferencing, we are just scratching the surface of what COVID has taught us about online meetings. Newbies in the job market should be skilled enough in teleconferencing that they can share screens, do hosting, and know etiquette of conference calling.
Dr. Mark Wilson: Good places to find work: two areas are booming now, Texas and the West Coast of Florida. In Texas, Dallas and Houston are growing quickly and with their youthful populations, this is a good place to look - the median age in Texas is 34 versus the U.S. average of 38. In Florida, from Tampa to Ft. Myers, growth is robust as baby boomers retire and leave job openings for new graduates.
Rob Austin McKee Ph.D.: Let's start with the necessary disclaimer that the high degree of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic makes predictions about its future effects tenuous. However, the historical precedents set by other significant events over the past century, such as the Great Depression or the Great Recession, indicate that we will see an enduring generational impact for graduates entering the workforce.
Academically, the pandemic will prolong the time some students spend in college, delaying their graduations and entrances into the workforce. Other students may end up dropping out entirely, completely derailing their plans. Considering the high levels of job loss we've seen, such outcomes may be especially prevalent for lower-income students who may have been working their way through school or relying on family members to help them with tuition. Students' course work and campus life have also been substantially disrupted. Many students have not been on campus for nearly a year. Any students not already attending online classes last spring endured a sudden, widespread, and unprecedented transition from face-to-face and hybrid classes to synchronous and asynchronous online classes, with varying degrees of success.
Universities are fortunate that the necessary technology currently exists to facilitate such a transition. Most professors achieved enough proficiency with the technology by the end of the 2020 spring semester to meet students' immediate needs. However, as I have heard from many students (and professors), virtual classes are a poor proxy for face-to-face classes, at least in disciplines wherein meaningful interaction is beneficial, as well as for students who need a more focused environment. I fear that a lot of courses sacrificed rigor that will take some time to reestablish. Though students may appreciate easier classes in the short-term, they may end up suffering for that deficiency on the job market.
Professionally, the pandemic likely will impair graduates' careers for years to come. They are entering a workforce that has already shed millions of jobs, and many of them do not have sufficient experience or a specific enough skill set to make them stand out. As jobs return, companies may reach out to the employees they previously dismissed before considering new applicants. Fewer jobs mean more competition for existing jobs and more workers willing to work for lower pay. And those entry-level jobs necessary to support students and recent graduates simply may not be available in many industries such as brick-and-mortar retail, restaurants, hospitality, tourism, and leisure.
Even internships are being rescinded, scaled back, and going virtual. Ultimately, new entrants to the job market should expect fewer jobs, jobs not commensurate with their educational levels, lower salaries, and slower career progression than those entrants from just a couple of years ago. However, applicants would be well advised to consider industries related to health, medicine, logistics, supply chain, and online retail that have proven to be strong during the pandemic.
Rob Austin McKee Ph.D.: Some of the most significant workplace issues are the uncertainty regarding when the pandemic will end, and the degree to which our shift away from the traditional workplace model (i.e., in-person versus remote work) is permanent. This predicament is similar to the idea of punctuated equilibrium; we are enduring a great upheaval, but we will achieve a new status quo at some point. To the extent that employers shift to a more remote workforce, graduates will need to learn how to be productive in their home environments while maintaining a clear division between work and other aspects of their lives.
In other words, it will be necessary for them to defend proper work-life balance. Doing so may be challenging because remote workers will likely have to contend with increasingly popular employer-required productivity and performance tracking software that may incentivize them to work more or focus on employer-prescribed metrics that are imperfectly aligned with their work tasks. So, workers need to master the autonomy resulting from such physical separation from their managers while simultaneously learning how to navigate the productivity and surveillance systems that intend to substitute those aspects of traditional management.
Rob Austin McKee Ph.D.: We have established that internships are scarce, and the job market is dismal. In this environment, applicants must demonstrate that they were not complacent while they were unemployed or underemployed. They can rise above the applicant pool and impress potential employers by showing that they used any time spent unemployed or underemployed building or refining the knowledge, skills, and abilities of value to prospective hiring firms.
Beyond the resume, applicants should master the virtual interview process and realize that some underappreciated factors may influence their success. Good lighting, a clean and quiet environment, and a stable internet connection are all important. Any student taking virtual classes knows how easy it is to lose focus or become distracted by their phones, pets, family members, etc. Realize that any person(s) remotely interviewing them may have the same distractions present, especially if they are conducting the interview from home. So, interviewees must be able to provide an engaging interview. So, practice!
Evan Kraft Ph.D.: In the next few months, I am afraid that we will not see a lot of good economic news. If anything, we can expect more restrictions on people's movements and on business activities that require people to be in close proximity to each other. We probably will not see a lot of good news until the later spring/early summer, when larger numbers of people will have received the vaccines, and better weather allows for more outdoor activity.
Overall, unemployment insurance claims rose last week to 853,000, the highest level since October. To give you an idea of how big that is, in a good economy 200 to 250,000 would be a normal number. And this number represents an increase from recent numbers.
However, there are some companies expanding at the moment. AU grads may be well-equipped to cope with jobs that involve working remotely, using analytical and computer skills. Those parts of the economy that can operate online are chugging on, in some cases growing, while those parts of the economy that operate in-person are having difficulties.
Evan Kraft Ph.D.: In general, employers are usually looking for people who can take initiative and responsibility. Specific skills such as computer programming, knowledge of useful software are great, but a job candidate's ability to express themselves, their confidence and ability to communicate, and their interpersonal skills are still very important. The AU degree and specific knowledge students gathered at AU can be a big plus, along with these other qualities.
Evan Kraft Ph.D.: If so, I would say that the US Government definitely will need young people. This includes the Treasury Department, Commerce, Agriculture, and even State. The Federal Reserve and its twelve Federal Reserve Banks are excellent employers, offering Research Assistant positions for econ grads. State and local governments also hire plenty of economists.
In the private sector, financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies and investment companies need young people who understand the basics of how the economy works and the financial system. Many of my students have gotten jobs in this sector.
Michael Ward: The skills learned in most economics degree programs are becoming even more important. The most important are critical thinking, familiarity with data, and, believe it or not, storytelling. Economics courses train students to examine all the consequences of an action, especially the unintended consequences. Not all implications are equally important, so we have developed ways of analyzing information to weigh these consequences. Much of our reasoning is by analogy where we can show that a particular consequence "is just like" a familiar lesson from a shared story. These skills have extremely wide applicability across many industries and job titles.
The pandemic has reduced job opportunities for economists about as much as most business professionals but nowhere near as much as, say, those in entertainment or tourism. Our skills remain highly sought across a wide spectrum of employers. The economics major remains the highest compensated degree outside of engineering. For example, among people with the job title "Manager", compensation of economics majors exceeds that of management majors precisely because these skills allow them to address challenges more creatively.
Michael Ward: Doing well in coursework is great, but what sells a job candidate is the initiative in an activity that shows that you have synthesized and applied what you have learned across multiple courses. This is a big ask but, there are plenty of ways to do this. You can join an extra-curricular club, but better is providing the leadership to enhance the club experience. You can take a part-time job, but better is founding a small entrepreneurial business that fills an unmet need. You can write term papers for classes, but better is helping draft and implement action plans for, say, a non-profit. If you have an interest in a hobby, a sport, or an industry, show that you have developed it into an expertise. All resumes include coursework, but activities that demonstrate initiative will stand out.
Michael Ward: More dynamic areas provide more opportunities. This applies to regions, to industries, and to skill sets. Since economists excel at problem solving, more dynamic settings provide more opportunities for creative solutions. Dynamic settings are also more receptive to the new solutions economists can identify. This is why so many economists have been courted by Silicon Valley startups. The beauty of economics is it provides an analytical framework in so many areas. The difficulty is that it is up to the job candidate to demonstrate how this framework applies in a particular endeavor.
Johannes Moenius Ph.D.: Almost surely, yes, and for several reasons:
1) There are fewer entry-level jobs where graduates can get basic training to complement their university education.
2) Fewer jobs means lower entry-level pay, so payment trajectories start out at lower levels. This has already been observed after the Great Recession. Those lower-level starts in terms of salaries are hard to ever make up for in the future.
3) Fewer jobs also mean many graduates will likely be forced to work in professions that they did not intend to work for or in and in which only part of their skills developed during their university education will be applicable. Getting back into the original job trajectory they had studied for gets harder with every year they work in a different type of job.
Johannes Moenius Ph.D.: Everyone talks about STEM, soft skills, high levels of expertise, and management. Our own analysis shows that this is likely not going to be correct across the board. Street math (i.e., addition, subtracting, etc.) is already done by calculators everywhere. Not all jobs require higher levels of math. Our research has especially shown that there is substantial regional variation in skill requirements, so there is no one size fits all. However, there are some sets of skills that ranked first in our research almost across the board, specifically, fundamental skills like reading comprehension and writing. Combined with communication skills and entrepreneurial attitudes, these are workforce skills and traits that will be almost universal.
Johannes Moenius Ph.D.: Employers I talked to always tell me as their number one item that they look for graduates who have demonstrated skills and experiences that make them productive from day one. So everything that indicates that a graduate can be gainfully employed right away without much extra training and explanations - things that reduce employers' efforts - is helpful. Complementary to that, our research shows that engagements that show dependability, integrity, and cooperation remain high on the list of signals that employers look for.
Business and Economics
Narbeli Galindo: In the last five years before joining Baker University as their Mealman of Business Leadership and Innovation chair to develop a new Entrepreneurship program and as Associate Professor of Business and Economics, I worked as the EDC Director of International Trade and Affairs for KCMO. The majority of the companies looking for workers were in several industries: banking, financial services, IT, manufacturing, engineering, health sciences, architecture, arts, non-profit management, and entrepreneurship.
While we are facing a pandemic, some companies have been affected economically to keep their doors open and have had to reduce their workforce, but other companies are actually thriving. In addition to working for Baker, I also run my own consulting firm called GlobalIETrade Consulting LLC, where I continue to work with companies looking to grow locally and globally. Due to my local and global business expansion expertise, I have met and worked with companies looking to hire students or graduates in some key industries such as nursing, banking, manufacturing, IT, and engineering. A couple of examples are companies in manufacturing PPE supplies and in offering IT services. Some of these companies are looking to hire in sales, marketing, software engineering, and business operations.
Narbeli Galindo: It is my prediction that in the next few years some of the companies, in the industries I have mentioned above, will have high demand for graduates, who are creative, eager to learn and ready to be train, so they can start to make a difference. As the economy improves and the virus is under control, more companies in industries that were affected, will start looking to hire graduates, who have innovative ideas, so they can help those companies overcome the recent economic downturn.
Narbeli Galindo: Kansas city has extensive employment opportunities due to the concentration of numerous industries. These industries include Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences, thanks to the Animal Corridor located in both KS & MO. In the fields of Baking and Financial services as well as in manufacturing and logistics, there is growth and a need for skilled and educated workforce. Kansas city offers extensive entrepreneurship resources, such as the Kauffman Foundation, enabling graduates to also start their own businesses.
C. Jeffrey Waddoups Ph.D.:
The absolute collapse in demand for workers in the hospitality sector, in other sectors where in-person services are provided, and the accompanying economic hardships these workers face.
Also, the change to remote work will permanently alter the way many of us do our jobs.
C. Jeffrey Waddoups Ph.D.: Workers must be able to communicate clearly and professionally, and in an era of remote work, this suggests that writing skills are particularly important. Economics graduates are often expected to be good with data and numbers. The pandemic has not changed this.
C. Jeffrey Waddoups Ph.D.: The demand for graduates in economics will remain as long as employers need intelligent analytical workers with good communication skills. There is no place in particular where such skills are needed more than any other site.