State economists advise the government and parliament on issues such as taxation, housing benefits, local government financing, public health, and criminal justice. They apply their knowledge of economic policies
They conduct research on economic phenomena, such as inflation, income distribution, capital investment, etc.
For example, economists study concrete proposals, such as plans to increase spending on housing, and use their results to advise ministers on eventual costs, the expected impact of current trends, and their implications for other areas of the budget.
State economists analyze national spending, as well as spending on health, and defense benefits and budgets, and recommend making investments or cuts in particular areas.
They also investigate the difference in values between payments inside and outside the country (the balance of payments), assessing the strength of the export market.
The economy deals only with money – which has to do with all kinds of resources, including raw materials, goods and services, and people. State economists could study the availability of a particular resource around the world, for example.
Aside from economists in central government, there are also economists in regional and local government, and in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as local development agencies.
All of these economists generally work to stimulate their local economy. They analyze local trends, such as investment in the tourism industry or investment by individuals, and keep policy makers informed of potential new sources of financing for local areas.
In business and industry, economists study markets, advise on investment opportunities, and warn of significant changes in the economy that could affect the company.
They study the use and distribution of resources within companies, gathering information on factors such as the availability and cost of raw materials, transportation, and labor.
The largest industrial and business organizations employ their own economists. However, most economists in this area work as consultants for smaller companies.
For example, a computer company may hire a consulting economist to determine how many students leave school with Information Technology (IT) skills of a certain level. This helps the company think about and plan for possible skills shortages in the future.
Economists also work in finance-related areas, for example in insurance companies, banks, and accounting firms.
Other areas of work include international organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). There are also economists working in areas such as journalism, education, and unions.
Regardless of who they work for, economists gather information from sources such as databases, published statistics, the internet, libraries, and newspapers. They present their results, for example, in reports presented orally or in writing, using graphs and tables.