October 29, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
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
University of New Mexico
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Southern Oregon University
Loyola University New Orleans
Christopher Newport University
Arizona State University
Coastal Carolina University
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
Louisiana Tech University
SUNY College at Oswego
University of Arizona
Belk College of Business
Dr. Dustin White Ph.D.: It's a great time to be an economics major because so many of our skills really stand out in today's work environment. The skills that I would be most focused on, and that I tend to advertise to employers when I talk about my students are (1) the ability of economics students to understand and develop robust models of human behavior, (2) work with data to validate or refute those models, and (3) the ability to be a data analyst in a more general sense. Data is the lifeblood of the modern economy, and being able to use that to make better business decisions really sets econ majors apart from the crowd. In a shorter sentence, econ majors combine the understanding of behavior with quantitative analysis skills to be excellent candidates for pretty much any job.
Dr. Dustin White Ph.D.: All of them! In my experience, students never spend enough time on soft skills. Good writing, good verbal communication, good presentation skills, and the ability to contribute to a team environment are probably the big ones. Make presentations to your peers (universities ALWAYS have opportunities to present your work!), work in teams whenever you can, take writing courses, and be active in discussions inside and outside of class. You can have all the technical skills globally, but you will still be passed over for a job if you can't nail the soft skills.
Dr. Dustin White Ph.D.: The big differentiator for econ majors is econometrics. It's not required everywhere, but it is one of the most important tools you can have in your arsenal. Econometrics teaches you how to rigorously test hypotheses about the world. Did my A/B test succeed? Did that sale we ran increase profitability? Does our product change people's behavior? We have to answer these questions with statistics, and econometrics is where you get the practice to do that. After that, the ability to create a model of behavior is probably the next most important skill. You have to be able to express a hypothesis to test it!
Dr. Dustin White Ph.D.: In today's world, data science and econometric skills will help you earn the most. So many firms are desperate for quantitative analysts. You probably won't be called an "economist," but there are a LOT of jobs and a lot of great-paying opportunities in this area right now. It helps that there is a pretty significant shortage of these skills since that shortage leads to higher wages and the ability to find some pretty cool jobs, even without as much experience as you would expect otherwise.
University of New Mexico
Department of Economics
Cristina Reiser: Economics is about human behavior under scarcity - we analyze how societies and markets allocate scarce resources, how incentives shape human behavior, and why there are tradeoffs in virtually all public policy options. Steven Levitt, the co-author of Freakonomics, says it best - "since the science of economics is primarily a set of tools, as opposed to a subject matter, then no subject, however offbeat, need be beyond its reach."
And this is what makes being an economist so unique. Graduates enter the labor market with a set of skills that allow them to be adaptable and choose from various career opportunities. Majors work in public policy, market research, business, government, and non-profit organizations. An econ major is also highly desirable for those planning to attend graduate school in economics, law, business administration, and international affairs. Our department community views economics learning as a pathway to careers and opportunities that can be personally rewarding while contributing to improved societal well-being.
Cristina Reiser: Students that major in economics excel at skills employers consistently rank as most important- soft skills include effective communication (ability to explain their work via writing and orally to different audiences), teamwork/social interaction, critical thinking/complex problem-solving.
Cristina Reiser: The level of recommended technical skills varies depending on whether a graduate enters the job market immediately or they opt for graduate school, but these include mathematics (calculus, statistics, etc.), analytical/statistical skills (ability to analyze data to answer questions, experience with statistical software), and research skills (investigation, persistence, and integrity).
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mike Aguilar: It appears so. Even if the pandemic vanishes tomorrow, many hiring organizations are adopting seemingly permanent changes in policy surrounding work from home. This implies that graduates need to work harder to find and connect with their mentors since impromptu interactions are less likely to arise. It also implies that our students need to understand and refine their virtual presence. I've heard horror stories about job candidates interviewing with their cameras off. That can't happen.
Of course, none of the comments above are specific to economics majors. All job market candidates need to consider the new normal.
Mike Aguilar: The typical Economics major on the job market doesn't need economics, per se. They need the analytical skills that the economics curriculum provides. We train students to think and analyze situations in a manner that other disciplines do not. Sometimes that will lead them to quantitative jobs, and sometimes it will lead them to qualitative jobs. As such, the necessary skills vary.
In general, I would say deep quantitative skills are becoming increasingly attractive. Job titles such as analyst, quantitative analysts, data analysts, and data scientists are accessible to economics majors. This requires a strong understanding of statistics and computational methods. At a minimum, these students should have an advanced understanding of Excel and at least one computational language like R, Python, or Matlab. Database skills are very helpful as well. Moreover, data visualization is key. Economics majors tend to be great storytellers.
Mike Aguilar: The blessing of the broad analytical training that accompanies the economics major is also its curse. Very few of our students go on to become professional economists. As such, the best resumes of economics majors have a complementary experience that is domain-specific.
The obvious route is an internship during the Sophomore or Junior year summer. Though, I would say that is not the only resume booster available. Anything experiential in the chosen domain of interest is extremely valuable. Often my most successful students belong to a club. However, they don't just belong to the club and sit passively in the meetings. They take ownership of the club and its activities. For instance, I love the Fed Challenge and Fiscal Challenge, each of which is competition that pushes students to analyze broad financial and public policy problems in a team-based setting. I often recommend that my more quantitative students participate in research projects with classmates or faculty and post that code to a GitHub and write about their findings on LinkedIn or other platforms.
Southern Oregon University
School of Business
Rattaphon Wuthisatia Ph.D.: Economists generally work in various industries, such as business, government, health, and education, and their primary responsibilities typically revolve around conducting research, collecting and analyzing data, preparing reports, and providing recommendations. Thus, it is important for economics graduates to demonstrate the skill sets essential to research in their resumes to impress prospective employers. These include analytical skills, quantitative skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, and a good understanding of economic theory and its applications.
Rattaphon Wuthisatia Ph.D.: Among economists, soft skills and technical skills are complementary. The soft skills can help accompany the technical skills and allow economists to distinguish themselves in a career in economics. In essence, there are some important soft skills that economics graduates should possess, including the potential to simplify complex information, the ability to communicate technical concepts to a wide (non-economist) audience, presentation skills, and teamwork.
Rattaphon Wuthisatia Ph.D.: Quantitative skills - particularly the ability to analyze data using statistical methods and software packages - are in high demand in the economics job market. There is evidence that quantitative skills are the most difficult-to-recruit skills for many organizations, and people who have these skills are in short supply. Thus, it is important for economics graduates to build and demonstrate their quantitative skills, as these skills can help increase their marketability and differentiate themselves in today's competitive job market.
Rattaphon Wuthisatia Ph.D.: As highlighted earlier, prospective employers in the economics job market always search for an economist who can conduct research for their organizations. To succeed in the job market and land a decent job, economics graduates need to possess a great combination of technical and soft skills necessary for research, such as quantitative skills, analytical skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, presentation skills, and the ability to simplify.
John Levendis: The impact could be long-lasting if students rush and make bad choices. The economy is quite weak right now, so there isn't much demand for new workers. And with unemployment so high, new graduates will be competing with seasoned veterans for the few available jobs. This pushes starting salaries for new graduates down. Accepting a low paying job starts you off lower on the job ladder, and it can take several years to climb up. Sometimes, it makes more sense to stay out of the job market for an extra year -- building your skill set and avoiding the market turbulence -- and then, enter the job force at a more senior position. Students shouldn't rush to graduate early into a low paying position.
John Levendis: The largest employer of economics graduates in government, especially at the federal level. Economics graduates usually have very good analytical skills, so they are often employed as business analysts in the industry.
John Levendis: Economists are very good at understanding data and using them to make forecasts. Technology, however, will impact the ways in which forecasts are made. Yesterday's Excel skills have been supplanted by today's Stata and SAS; these will be supplanted by tomorrow's Python and R. To stay current, economics students should get a good grounding in statistical programming.
John Levendis: This all depends upon what kinds of jobs you're applying for, who the employer is, etc... A job at the Fed as a research economist will require a different skillset (and a Ph.D.) from an analyst with the Department of Labor. Regardless of your employer, econometric/statistical skills are highly valued and expected.
John Levendis: Though economists are expected to have strong technical skills, especially with statistics, soft skills are equally important and easily overlooked by students. It does employers no good to hire economists who cannot explain their work or their conclusions. Be able to convey technical matters to non-technical audiences. Try explaining your research to your parents, for example, without using jargon. Even better, try explaining it to a grade-schooler. Your boss might not need to know the gory mathematical details. But they will need to know what your conclusions are.
John Levendis: Economists are expected to be able to analyze reams of data. Econometrics and prob/stats skills are expected. Take as many of these classes as possible. Outside of the standard econometrics offerings, consider taking general programming courses.
John Levendis: It is easy to document technical skills: your transcripts can show the technical classes you've taken. A writing sample shows how clearly you can explain your work. However, the interview is critical for showing that you can present your research findings to non-technical audiences.
Christopher Newport University
Department of Economics
Zhaochen He Ph.D.: I would say that, in general, hard skills are what set your resume apart - not because they are more important, but because they are easier to vet. Anyone can claim to have "leadership skills" or be "good on a team," but you can't put a hard skill on your resume without backing it up with coursework or experience.
Zhaochen He Ph.D.: In terms of which skills are most important, have a look at this chart, which was featured on this Website , and based on this paper. According to the chart, "maturity" is the single highest ranking soft skill. Interestingly, but not wholly unsurprising, especially for recent college graduates.
Zhaochen He Ph.D.: In terms of hard skills, more and more these days, people are looking for economists with quantitative skills, particularly data skills. This applies to the private sector, government jobs, and academia alike. I would recommend that any undergraduate economics major take econometrics (if it's not already required for their program) and pursue fluency in one or more statistical packages, such as Stata, R, or Python. Pairing an economics degree with a degree in computer science or data science would also open up doors.
Chad Sparber Ph.D.: Economics majors develop outstanding quantitative and analytical skills. They can take complex problems, concentrate on the essential information, and develop solutions. For Colgate graduates specifically, our students must develop independent research projects for their senior theses. Each student must pose an interesting question, review past academic literature, gather data, and perform statistical analysis to develop answers and interesting insights. This becomes a talking point during job interviews. The research experience tells employers a lot more about the student's capabilities and interests than an exam ever could.
Chad Sparber Ph.D.: Economists talk ad nauseum about costs and benefits. That is an important perspective to bring to a meeting -- someone in the room must temper enthusiasm about new projects and proposals to help ensure that decision-makers have considered all the consequences, strengths, and weaknesses. But that willingness to provide critical dissent does not always receive a warm welcome. It is important to communicate that this kind of feedback is intended to help inform decision-making for the betterment of the organization; it is not meant to be mean for the sake of being mean.
Chad Sparber Ph.D.: Employers like that our students are well trained with data and statistical analysis software, ranging from Excel at a basic level to more advanced Stata skills.
Chad Sparber Ph.D.: Our students do well in the job market. Their quantitative, analytical, and statistical skills earn high wages.
Arizona State University
Department of Economics
Cara McDaniel Ph.D.: Economics majors should have a combination of math, statistics, and data analysis skills.
Cara McDaniel Ph.D.: People trained in economics have excellent critical thinking skills. By this, I mean they can identify a problem, break it into smaller parts, and weigh the costs and benefits of different solutions. They are also good at applying these skills to various problems, from tax policy issues to individual firm pricing decisions.
Cara McDaniel Ph.D.: Econometrics and forecasting are very useful skills taught in an economics curriculum. Economists need to be well versed in statistics and statistical software packages.
Cara McDaniel Ph.D.: The answers to 2 and 3. The better you are working with data and applying your intuition, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills, the higher your marginal value to firms, and you should expect to be compensated!
Yoav Wachsman Ph.D.: To succeed in the job market, you should gain work experience, develop your professional profile, and build your network. You can gain work experience while in college by completing internships and seeking jobs requiring you to use your professional and leadership skills. While working at an internship or a job, try to learn and apply your abilities, pursue more responsibilities, and seek mentorship from more experienced workers.
You should also develop your professional profile by writing a clear and concise resume, creating a comprehensive LinkedIn profile, and preparing an elevator speech, which communicates your background and goal under 30 seconds. Reach out to your career center and read articles on the Internet to get tips on how to develop your profile. Once you create your professional profile, use it to expand your professional network. If you meet someone who works in your field, try connecting with them using LinkedIn or email if they don't have a LinkedIn profile. Also, connect with your professors outside of class; they may have valuable connections to help you find a job.
Yoav Wachsman Ph.D.: Developing technical skills will make you more employable. One of the most desired skills in the job market right now is analyzing data sets. You can create an ability to analyze data by learning advanced statistics and data analysis software like SPSS or SAS. There is also a strong demand right now for web designers and computer programs. Even if you do not have the time to invest in learning a computer language, designing a website using essential tools like WordPress can be extremely useful for smaller businesses and organizations.
Yoav Wachsman Ph.D.: According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics published, the median salary for economists in 2019 is $105,020 per year. The BLS estimates a growth of 14% in positions for economists over the next ten years, making economics one of the most lucrative and promising fields to study.
Jeffery Degner: Rather than thinking about specific companies, I encourage students to look for the best employer for them. I would urge graduates to give first consideration to companies with a clear track record of employee training and development that also have multiple pathways and opportunities for promotion. It is often tempting to only target firms that have high salaries. While this is undoubtedly an appealing reason to seek employment, students should view their first job in international business as a sort of 'on-ramp' that gets you onto a highway. To continue the analogy, if you see an on-ramp with a posted speed limit, but there is a traffic jam in front of you, with no room to advance...that's a recipe for getting stuck. Seek out companies that provide a clear and well-supported path to greater responsibility, and the income will follow.
Jeffery Degner: In short, yes! In terms of the next five years in this profession, the opportunities should continue to grow. The continued integration of the world economy may face local geopolitical challenges in Southeast Asia, given the tensions surrounding Hong Kong, the South China Sea, and more. However, the post-Covid realities of working from home, and even telecommuting across national borders, means that firms will continue to increase their demand for students with a firm grasp of international team-building and possess a high degree of cultural intelligence. Employers also know that they can cast a wider recruiting net to new graduates worldwide and integrate them into their corporate cultures. With this larger labor supply, graduates can set themselves apart with their multilingual capacity and cultural awareness.
Jeffery Degner: Concerning opportunities within the U.S., the large multinational firms are still hiring! According to some of the latest from LinkedIn, the household names such as Walmart, Amazon, and FedEx are among those hiring most aggressively in the upcoming months. FedEx is an interesting case, where the worldwide disruptions in supply chain management due to governmental responses to Covid-19 has created space for new ideas and agile firms like XPO Logistics to hire fresh talent. My final comment might be viewed as a 'hot-take'...with that said, the banking industry has traditionally been a place where international business students have had plenty of open doors. However, the growing calls for governments to develop digital flat currencies that are distributed directly to citizens, may allow central banks to bypass the need for commercial and local banks entirely and might cause some instability in the banking field in the not too distant future
Dr. Dina Franceschi Ph.D.: Here is a list of our most recent placements for Economics grads from Fairfield.
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Peoples United Bank
Newtown Savings Bank
Gabelli Asset Management Co.
General Electric Co.
Dr. Dina Franceschi Ph.D.: Economists' job outlook is stable at 14% according to the BLS, and I imagine it will remain so in the coming years. Additionally, salaries in the field are relatively high.
Dr. Dina Franceschi Ph.D.: Urban and financial centers are a nexus of Economic analysis, so N.Y. is undoubtedly a hub and the economic corridor surrounding it. Other financial centers globally would be hot spots, and London, Singapore, Sao Paulo, etc. On the policy side, roughly 25% of jobs for Economists domestically are located in Washington D.C., so that is a robust job market
Pattabiraman Neelakantan Ph.D.: It is a difficult job market for all. So, don't be too hard on yourself. Remember that it is just your FIRST job, and you will grow over time with more challenging opportunities. So, keep your spirits up and strengthen your credentials now.
Pattabiraman Neelakantan Ph.D.: More and more work will be done online rather than face-to-face. So, familiarize yourself with major telecommunication tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. Also, strengthen your online security to protect your personal and work-related material. So, invest in a suitable smartphone, laptop, and secure highspeed internet access. And develop online discipline - meaning, when you are working online, avoid distractions from other electronic devices, and separate work areas from the rest of the residence. Stick to your daily online presence, your work schedules, and focus on delivering results, just like you would do in a face-to-face situation.
Pattabiraman Neelakantan Ph.D.: Given the Covid-19 business slowdown, entering graduates are likely to face a 10-15% salary reduction. Since they will be saving time and money commuting to work and related expenses, this reduction in salary is unlikely to reduce their standard of living. In 2-3 years, salary levels will catch up, and young workers will see much better income potential.
Louisiana Tech University
Economics and Finance Department
Patrick Scott Ph.D.: I think this answer depends on what the job is. Generally speaking, the applied experience is preferred in the job market right now. But also, the world of human resources is changing rapidly. Most large firms are employing digital software and algorithms to pre-screen resumes before they even get into the hands of an interviewer.
More than what type of experience, I think it is more important than the candidate knows how to sell their knowledge. The ability to match past work experience with the specific catchphrases that a company is advertising for is paramount. In many cases, the job descriptions don't match, but the practical job experience does. The successful job candidate is writing a specific resume for each particular job they are applying for.
Patrick Scott Ph.D.: I wouldn't recommend the gap years. Instead, I would suggest start higher education now or pursue graduate degrees to give yourself a marketable edge.
Elizabeth Dunne Schmitt: Yes, I expect a long term impact, based on past studies of college graduates during recessions.
There is a significant body of research showing that graduating from college during a recession has an earnings penalty of 10-15 years, relative to students that graduate during an expansion:
Oyer, P. (2006). Initial labor market conditions and long-term outcomes for economists. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(3), 143-160.
Kahn, L. B. (2010). The long-term labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy. Labor economics, 17(2), 303-316.
Wozniak, A. (2010). Are college graduates more responsive to distant labor market opportunities?. Journal of Human Resources, 45(4), 944-970.
Oreopoulos, P., Von Wachter, T., & Heisz, A. (2012). The short-and long-term career effects of graduating in a recession. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(1), 1-29.
" First, luck matters, because graduating in a recession leads to large initial earnings losses. These losses, which amount to about 9 percent of annual earnings in the initial stage, eventually recede, but slowly -- halving within five years but not disappearing until about ten years after graduation. Second, initial random shocks affect the entire career. Graduating in a recession leads workers to start at smaller and lower-paying firms, and they catch-up by switching jobs more frequently than those who graduate in better times. Third, some workers are more affected by luck than others. In particular, earnings losses from temporarily high unemployment rates are minimal for workers with two or more years of work experience and are greatest for labor market entrants. Among graduates, those with the lowest predicted earnings suffer significantly larger and much more persistent earnings losses than those at the top."
So research tells us that graduates during a recession will accept offers with lower pay and with smaller firms and switch jobs more frequently to get back on track. Among graduates, lower-paying fields graduates without work experience are worse off.
Elizabeth Dunne Schmitt: Different areas of the country are growing at different rates, so there are always "hotter" job markets in some areas of the country relative to others.The Southern and Western areas of the country are growing fastest, and job growth with them. But for new graduates, starting out, it is also important to consider the cost of living. Taking a lower-paying job with cheaper housing may leave students in a better budget position overall to start building retirement and paying down student loan debt. For economics degrees, major cities will have more opportunities with consulting, analytics, government, etc.
Elizabeth Dunne Schmitt: I think, for undergraduates, the key is to build marketable job skills while earning your degree. These would include learning to program in Stata or R, SQL, and get very proficient with a spreadsheet. Take advantage of your schools, networking opportunities, and internship postings. When evaluating a job offer, think about what you will learn in the next 2-5 years to help you get that next position.
Department of Economics
Ria Bhattacharya Ph.D.: Think tanks in the US have estimated the recovery of the US economy from the COVID-19 situation to be somewhere between 3 to 5 years, especially for the most affected sectors in the economy. We have noticed a drop in hiring, earlier this year, after the pandemic hit the US economy. Undoubtedly, we are in a recessionary situation, which has affected the job prospects and attainment of advanced degrees among the recent graduates. Due to loss of revenue, some of the prestigious institutions in the US have taken the hard decision to suspend Ph.D. admissions, which is a setback for many graduates who aspire for a more advanced degree.
So the impact may be there for quite some time, even if it is not long-lasting. For graduates who had plans for a Ph.D., there may be some temporary setback since the requires a commitment of 4-5 years or longer in some cases. With a situation like COVID-19, it may lead to panic and doubt among students regarding their job situation, after Ph.D. Since a span of 4 years and beyond could witness volatile situations in the economy (like we had COVID this year), which in turn affect their employability after they graduate.
But the Bureau of Labor Statistics had published promising data in their Occupational Outlook Handbook, where it projects employment of Economists to grow 14 percent from 2019-2029. COVID-19 might result in a temporary setback, but once the economy starts recovering, this growth in employment may still be achievable.
Ria Bhattacharya Ph.D.: Econ graduates with a Bachelors's degree can find employment in less affected sectors like insurance, health, finance, and think tanks. I would recommend Econ majors to be more active on platforms like Linkedin.
Since the job market has contracted, the graduates must work hard on their CV to add credentials (like improving their skills in MS office, adding certifications which make their CV standout) makes them a desirable candidate among the recruiters.
Linkedin is a good place to begin the job search by creating their profile and actively looking for positions.
There has always been a steady demand for Research Assistants with good quantitative skills, like knowledge of R, STATA, Python, and sometimes Latex. The job postings are usually available on Highered jobs, American Economic Association, and EconJobMarket. EconJobMarket has a specific category of job postings for the Research Assistant/Pre Doc job market. Individual faculties are also allowed to post positions for RAs at this website. Even though academia has also suffered because of the pandemic, there are still plenty of opportunities at the university level and places like NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research), Federal Reserve, to name a few.
Econ majors or advanced Econ students with a specialization in Health Economics can also find positions in the Pharmaceutical industry. That is another sector not majorly affected by the pandemic.
There is no doubt the employment opportunities for Econ graduates with masters or a Ph.D. to have a better shot at the job market in the sectors mentioned above. Econ graduates with advanced degrees have been hired by tech firms like Amazon, Microsoft, etc., and tech is another sector that has thrived during the pandemic.
Ria Bhattacharya Ph.D.: COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a paradigm shift, from physical presence in the workplace to work from home. We must remember that the extraordinary situation has been created by an infectious virus, and social distancing has been one of the effective strategies to keep ourselves from getting infected. Most people have been able to retain their jobs due to the possibility of work from home, thanks to technology like the internet and digital devices. In-person meetings/in-class lectures have been replaced by virtual meetings/lectures conducted through Zoom, Google Meet, WebEx, to name a few. ;
The impact on the field of Economics can be discussed as follows
1) Instruction/Teaching methods: Education is one sector that has greatly been impacted by this sudden change and a switch to technology. Where many faculties now have to deliver instructions, schedule examinations, etc. online. It has now become increasingly important to enhance one's computer skills. Most schools in the US have gone completely virtual, at least for the fall semester. The usage of technology has become mandatory now. I expect online learning platforms like MyEconlab offered by Pearson, Mindtap from Cengage, or LaunchPad from Macmillan and so on, to gain more importance.
These platforms provide access to online homework assignments, course materials, videos, etc. Given the nature of the virus, the faculty will be more inclined to use these platforms since it means no physical contact with hard copies of the assignments and, hence, less chance of infection. Even after the pandemic is over, these platforms will still be popular for the convenience they provide (the assignments are graded online and, hence, less grading on the part of the instructors. For students, they get immediate feedback since the assignments are graded immediately; some instructors allow multiple attempts at the homework, thus, providing students an opportunity for better grades). There may be some minor drawbacks associated with technology, but the benefits exceed these costs.
I will expect learning management systems like Blackboard, Moodle, etc. to be more popular among the faculty and students. These systems provide the convenience of posting the syllabus, lecture notes, videos, etc. online.
In the coming years, I also expect to see more offerings of online courses and an increase in demand, as well as enrollment, for online programs.
Based on my observations, I have noticed most of my students are more comfortable taking notes on their computers or other digital devices, as opposed to the traditional pen and paper. Currently, for some students, the usage of technology may be perceived as something that is forced on them, but in the future, it is highly likely to become a norm. Using digital devices means less pile of notebooks and paper and, hence, less or almost no clutter.
2) Meetings and Recruitment: It has also been noticed hiring firms, including schools/universities, have been using online platforms to conduct virtual interviews.
This could prove to be cost-saving for the hiring company. The department recruiting faculty often fly the finalist candidates to their campus for interviews and research presentations. Having virtual campus visits is beneficial financially for the department. So in the future, we might witness more virtual interviews cause of the benefits associated with it.
Certain sections of employees and students have voiced their opinion in favor of remote work and instruction due to the flexibility and convenience it provides for some of them. We are becoming more acceptable to this new normal situation.
In the coming years, technology will have a greater role to play, not just for Economists but for most of the sectors. Unfortunately, it will also bring the threat of automation and may lead to layoffs in certain job positions.
In my personal opinion, the impact of technology will have effects beyond five years, and we must update ourselves with newly-introduced-to-digital tools, since these tools will become an indispensable part of our day-to-day functioning.
Ryan Herzog Ph.D.: This will be interesting to see how the coronavirus pandemic plays out. Typically college graduates entering the job market during a recession have few job opportunities, lower wages, slower wage growth, and are more likely to change positions.
We've seen a number of positions canceled or delayed because of the pandemic. These students will be adversely impacted, but they can also use this time to further their education. If they can attend graduate school in a specialized field (business intelligence, accounting, data science, operations research), they should be able to mitigate some of these losses.
In the short run, I would expect to see an increase in retirements as firms try to cut costs. If we have a quick recovery, firms are going to be struggling to find qualified workers.
Ryan Herzog Ph.D.: The tech industry is booming as firms adjust operations for the work-from-home environment. We are in a strange transition, and I'm not sure it is ending any time soon. Careers tied to leisure and hospitality and air travel will take years before they return to pre-pandemic levels. So Boeing, Delta, United, American Airlines, etc. might not be hiring for a while, but Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, etc. will be able to pick up the slack.
We also see demand pick up in service sectors (hardware stores, fast food), delivery (FedEx, UPS, UberEats/Grubhub), outdoor recreation, and construction (especially single and multifamily units). The pandemic will speed up a lot of tech developments (Zoom, Instacart) and create a lot of new opportunities (still figuring these out).
Ryan Herzog Ph.D.: Firms won't be able to rely as much on their training and will expect students to be more prepared to enter the labor force. This is a good time for students to take extra courses or earn certifications in key areas: project management, Google analytics, Amazon web services, business analytics, business intelligence, actuary science, HR management.
University of Arizona
Department of Economics
Dirk Mateer Ph.D.: Economics is an exceptionally versatile degree that allows graduates to pivot in many directions. National data shows that mid-career economics majors earn more than any other discipline. Economics majors also have the highest Law School Admissions Test scores and the highest acceptance rates into medical school. Economics majors who also earn an MBA have the second-highest expected income (behind engineers). In short, economics majors, even during downturns, do extraordinarily well.
However, the cost of entering the workforce during a recession for new graduates is substantial and unequal. Salaries' outcomes are also highly variable. Weaker (or unlucky) graduates suffer persistent earnings declines that can last up to ten years. They start to work for lower-paying employers, and then partly recover through a gradual process of mobility toward better firms. Advantaged graduates suffer less from graduating in recessions because they switch to better firms quickly, while earnings of less advantaged graduates can be permanently affected by cyclical downgrading.
Dirk Mateer Ph.D.: Economists typically find work in the public sector, at large corporations, consulting firms, and in public policy. These opportunities are spread across the United States, and work opportunities exist in all 50 states. Employment concentrations can be found in Washington, DC, state capitals, and in high-tech areas.
Dirk Mateer Ph.D.: Economists do highly specialized work that is both complex and nuanced. Therefore, economists are unlikely to experience significant job losses due to technology. However, economics majors who take positions in service-oriented jobs are at risk due to automation, robotics, and advances in artificial intelligence.
Roger Sparks: Yes, I believe so. There are likely to be enduring impacts on the types of job openings for graduates and on the academic preparation of graduates. The areas where we can expect job growth both in the short and long term are health, environment, on-line retail, and anything involving the internet. In all of these areas, data analysis skills will be in high demand.
Because these graduates will have experienced a significant amount of on-line learning while in social isolation and during a period of social and environmental upheaval (e.g., protests against police brutality, fires, and hurricanes), I think there will be some psychological fallout (e.g., anxiety and depression) for graduates to deal with. On top of that, learning online is not as effective as in-person learning, particularly in small classes at a school like Mills.
It will take years for the US job market to recover, so graduates will need to be flexible about the types of jobs they will accept.
Roger Sparks: I think the geographical location will be less important in the future as companies realize that remote work can increase productivity and lower costs. It allows employees to save on commute time and collaborate effectively over the internet. Companies won't need to provide as much office space. There also won't be as much airline travel for in-person meetings. Finally, this "geo plasticity" will mean that graduates can choose home locations based on characteristics other than physical proximity to corporate headquarters.
Roger Sparks: If "necessity is the mother of invention," then existential crises (e.g., pandemic and climate change) could be the Big Bang. Current technology, such as telecommunications and computers, has helped us mitigate both the spread of Covid-19 and the damage to the economy. Technological change is always difficult to predict. We can anticipate/hope that new technologies will emerge for testing for infections, developing vaccines, contact tracing, curbing wildfires, dealing with high winds and flooding, and curbing carbon emissions.
Joseph Nowakowski Ph.D.: Almost certainly. It will take years for the economy to return to its long-run growth pattern, and although a college degree makes a person less likely to suffer long-term unemployment, it may be a much longer search to find that first job.
Joseph Nowakowski Ph.D.: Economics majors find work in a wide variety of occupations, so they can be a bit lost on where they locate. In general, opportunities will obviously be better in places that got a handle on the virus before they tried to reopen, but on the other hand, people will be drawn to those places, so competition will be higher.
Joseph Nowakowski Ph.D.: I imagine a lot more remote meetings, so software like Zoom and Teams and others will become as ubiquitous as email. As buildings get built or remodeled with ventilation systems designed to handle the virus (and new ones), in-person work may make a comeback. There are personal and professional benefits to meeting in person, although my guess is the share of remote work will remain higher than before COVID-19 hit.
Dr. Craig Depken II: Yes-not so much the pandemic itself (as I am not a medical doctor) but the associated recession and setback in employment opportunities will impact the 2020 and 2021 graduates throughout their career. Previous studies have shown that coming out of college during a recession can impact starting salaries by up to 10%, conditional on being employed, and can also substantially increase the amount of time before a graduate finds a first job in their skill set. This reduces lifetime earnings as they start at a lower salary and often find that promotions or new jobs are hard to come by.
Dr. Craig Depken II: I have not seen strong evidence, but it would seem that the bigger cities are losing individuals-whether through coronavirus fears, fears of economic stress, violence, etc. On the one hand, there might be more job opportunities in cities that are losing population. On the other hand, mid-sized cities like Nashville, Chattanooga, and Jacksonville appear to be growing, and there might be more opportunities where the population is moving. It is difficult to pinpoint specific places for recent graduates to move-but I would predict that with the new technologies for telecommuting, smaller cities will be just as viable as the big cities were over the past twenty years.
Dr. Craig Depken II: It will have an immense impact because we now have the bandwidth and the secured software to allow individuals to work remotely much easier and more productively than we could in the past. Whether people continue to work from home or follow a WeWork model where they have a remote office that is not in their home remains to be seen. But definitely, the improved security and internet bandwidth makes it possible for econometrics and financial analysis to be undertaken on laptops and desktops whereas before, you needed to be in the building to access a mainframe or other network. Finally, the big data revolution will continue, and firms will soon find that they have too much data to really understand, and economics and econometrics will become more important because econometric models try to be as simple and direct as possible while still delivering actionable guidance. This will become more important in the coming years as firms try to recover market share and total sales from the pandemic-induced recession.