November 16, 2020
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.
Coastal Carolina University
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
Louisiana Tech University
SUNY College at Oswego
Loyola University New Orleans
University of Arizona
Belk College of Business
Orfalea College of Business
Texas A&M Commerce
Eastern Washington University
Coastal Carolina University
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
Department of EconomicsWebsite
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
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
Department of Political Science and EconomicsWebsite
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 DepartmentWebsite
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.
SUNY College at Oswego
Department of EconomicsWebsite
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.
Department of EconomicsWebsite
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.
Loyola University New Orleans
Department of EconomicsWebsite
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.
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.
Department of Economics, Accounting, and BusinessWebsite
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.
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.
Belk College of Business
Department of BusinessWebsite
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.
Dr. Todd Steen: Given the situation with the COVID-19 virus, I believe having an economics degree will be more valuable than ever. Graduates will be prepared for a variety of conditions and have excellent problem-solving skills. The pandemic will lead to many new situations that firms will have to face that have economic implications. I believe that economics degrees will be in high demand.
My advice to graduates in economics would be to gain experience with various tools for data analysis. I would also advise graduates to start reading as much as possible in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and other economics and business periodicals. At the same time, keep up with the news of the day at places like Real Clear Politics. Things will be changing fast, and it will be essential to keep on top of these changes.
Dr. Todd Steen: In the next three to five years, data analysis, and the ability to use economic reasoning will be more critical than ever. Graduates should be familiar with economics models and should be able to use software packages that analyze data.
Dr. Todd Steen: The coronavirus pandemic's enduring impact will be an even more rapid change in our economy and our society. Graduates in the field of economics will be well-positioned to add value to the firms where they work.
Matthew Burr: Ask many questions and be open to challenging opportunities. Look for additional continuing education training and certifications. Learn the business and build relationships.
Matthew Burr: Erp systems are critical to know and understand. His and payroll systems are necessary for accounting professionals to understand. Microsoft Excel is also a program all need to be subject matter experts with. Look for evolving technologies and apps. The internet of things.
Matthew Burr: The industry will become more competitive, and any professional needs to evolve and adapt their work style, use of technology, and how work is done. Self-management and time management skills will are critical. Self-care is also going to impact graduates
Christopher Ball Ph.D.: Economics is a broad, analytical, and generally more quantitative significant. Because it’s a social science that helps students understand nearly any field because they know all fundamental interactions between people in markets (supply and demand) or inside workplaces (incentives, optimal production, etc.). And because much of economics focuses on the market place (supply and demand), our majors have an understanding of the core principles involved in all business disciplines. As a result, I recommend our students aim for more quantitative jobs and those using more analysis. The specific field is less important, and I always recommend people seek employment in areas they like. When you enjoy something, you work harder, and you are more likely to succeed. Because economics forms the basis of so many things in business from the marketing to production to the management, economics majors tend to start similarly to other majors and then change trajectories and rise faster than other majors. A few years out and they are ideal for management because they can apply economic concepts to any area and learn the basics quickly.
However, if someone is quantitatively oriented and added a technical minor to the econ major like data science or something, then those students are in super high demand, COVID crisis or not. We still see them graduating with some of the highest starting salaries and having much higher wages just five years out than most other graduates. All the benefits of economics being analytical and quantitative combines well with those hardcore data skills to form a compelling combination.
Christopher Ball Ph.D.: Economics is at the cutting edge of data science and also cognitive psychology or “behavioral economics.” All of the artificial intelligence and network sciences are booming in our field. So, any technology supporting that area will grow in importance for economists. Most students in economics today learn necessary coding in R – an open-source programming language used in statistical analysis – and slowly in Python as well, which is broader than R. Again, all the areas feeding the use of those technologies are only growing in importance for us. Finally, because all techs generate lots of data and data continues to grow in availability, data management, and understanding both the potential and the limits of big data will become more critical.
Christopher Ball Ph.D.: Yes. The coronavirus pandemic has further helped sever the community connection between a place of work and its employees. Some jobs will continue to be online, and others not, but the current generation of graduates already feel less connected to specific institutions and are more likely to change jobs. I believe this online experiment we all did during the coronavirus will permanently enhance that, and all our graduates should expect to change careers more often in their lifetimes. They will always have the option of picking a job where they can work from home. That was a growing possibility with the growing “gig economy” (Uber, etc.) but will be a more significant option. Simultaneously, I believe personally that this has also highlighted the fact that there is a premium to doing things in person. No one was happy just staying home and only working online. To get counseling, to sell or teach, to motivate colleagues, and many more things, we learned that you need to meet in person. Also, specific experiences people want in person: college generally, going to a bar, a restaurant, and so on. So, it’s like we all learned that the world wouldn’t be all online or all in person, but we don’t know what the right mix will be. The premium, however, will be on the in-person side of things. So, our graduates need to think about this. Yes, it’s valuable to be able to code, and you can work from home. But if you just work from home, you compete globally against people coding in Europe, Asia, Australia, etc. So those who can understand those work-from-home skills but combine them with interpersonal skills will be even more valuable in the future.
Orfalea College of Business
Eduardo Zambrano: First, here is some 'technical' advice:
Every Economics graduate should feel very comfortable with coding and data management. This training can be obtained if your school does not offer it by attending software and data carpentry workshops online (https://carpentries.org/). A graduate with good Python and R skills, and working knowledge of SQL, will stand out in a crowded field, no matter what sub-field of economics the graduate may be interested in.
Now, here is some 'big picture' advice:
Economic data does not analyze itself, and it does not come from 'nature.' Economic data is the result of the decisions of individuals. To understand data generated by a human activity, you need to think about the incentives that lead individuals to make the decisions that are captured in this data. Therefore, knowledge of econometrics is essential, as it is knowledge of economic theory. What distinguishes Economists from other kinds of data analysts is this emphasis on the understanding that if you do not factor accurately how individuals respond to incentives in the analysis of your data, your review is likely to be flawed or at least incomplete. Getting good at this way of data analysis takes many years, and graduates should be prepared to continue learning how to do this well past their college years. With this advice comes a caveat, and an acknowledgment of responsibility: every data analyst must understand that decisions based on data have ethical implications, and can affect some gender or ethnic groups in different ways. These considerations must be explicitly addressed, or the analyst may provide biased and ultimately undesirable advice to the decision-makers.
Eduardo Zambrano: Machine learning, without a doubt. Machine learning is a compelling set of tools for classification and prediction. That does not describe the future: it represents the present. What the future will bring is integration between statistical learning and econometrics. This integration will vastly improve the ability of organizations to use their data to make the right decisions. Technology companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Uber have already started profiting from this integration. In the next 3-5 years, we will see the inclusion of these methods become more known throughout the rest of the economy.
Erik Johnson Ph.D.: Economics gives you a set of tools to analyze a variety of policy and business problems. However, determining which tools to apply in which situation requires that you learn the industry, you are working from top to bottom. When you begin a new job in a new field, be sure to do everything you can to understand how the organization and the industry work to understand the primary incentives that everyone faces. One right way to do this is to make as many connections within the company you are working for as possible and always be on the lookout for new opportunities within the company and how they can help you learn more. Moreover, do your best to ensure that a significant portion of your job involves some creative endeavors such as economic modeling or building tools for yourself or others to use. As computing power continues to become cheaper, and artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, relatively repetitive tasks become more comfortable and easier to automate. Therefore you will have less job security. Creative tasks such as modeling and tool building are difficult to automate and are more likely to provide you with more satisfaction.
Erik Johnson Ph.D.: Two technologies are likely to become more critical in the next 3-5 years. First, much more videoconferencing and remote meetings are likely here to stay. Be sure you can communicate effectively through these mediums. Secondly, using large amounts of numerical and textual data will become increasingly crucial for businesses and policy analysis. Learning how to sift through these data and glean insights from them are likely essential skills to develop and allow you to grow in your career.
Erik Johnson Ph.D.: Graduating in a recession stinks! It is harder to find a job, but if you do find a job, it will likely pay you less than the same position if the economy weren't in a recession. This will not be a temporary problem; it will probably last a long time. There is economic research that shows that you can "catch up" with your peers who graduated during good times after about a decade. However, for the catch-up, you will need to be flexible with your jobs. Most of the catch up in wages will come from switching jobs. Few employers will give you sufficient wage increases to make up for the fact they were able to hire you relatively cheaply during a recession. Instead, you will need to look for new jobs every few years to get the raises that will put you on track to earn as much as if you hadn't graduated in a recession. It's hard work, but it will pay off.
Texas A&M Commerce
Management and EconomicsWebsite
Dr. Mario Hayek Ph.D.: Definitely! Graduates are facing professional and emotional challenges that will impact them for years to come. Professionally, they face one of the worst labor markets in history, lower salaries, and shifts in sought-after skills that may not be aligned with what they studied. These conditions will result in shorter lifetime earning potential and graduates deciding to remain longer in school, to upskill or retool, to become more competitive. Students should be ready to better prepare themselves by taking on internships and learning tools that allow them to create immediate value for their employers.
Dr. Mario Hayek Ph.D.: The northeast seems to be one of the best places to find jobs, post-COVID. However, the decline in employment was less in Texas than the national average and, the industry of work has a more significant impact than geographic location. For example, retail, hotel, and leisure industries have been severely hit across the U.S. At the same time, supply chain, data analytics, and many accounting and financial services are less affected, or have increased in demand.
Dr. Mario Hayek Ph.D.: Technology has been imparting higher education for some time now, and the current pandemic has accelerated the changes that were already taking place. Faculty and students are becoming more comfortable with distance learning, employers are becoming more accepting of online degrees, universities are learning to capitalize on the benefits of online education such as by inviting corporate lecturers from across the globe, internships are often remote, and students can learn how to manage to disperse teams. Technology is now embedded in all course work, instead of being a stand-alone class; indeed, students obtain an outstanding experiential education.
Eastern Washington University
David Bunting Ph.D.: Probably not much.
David Bunting Ph.D.: Go where the jobs are; move to larger cities because of more employers.
David Bunting Ph.D.: Economics majors use statistical, and data are accessing technology. Most of the skills to use this technology are acquired through learning-by-doing. Majors should be flexible and willing to adopt technological changes as their merits become apparent. Many of the claims for technological changes are straightforward claims by vendors.