Economists: Salary Overview
Economists collect and analyze data to study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services.
Their job description varies depending on the field of employment and their specialty but economists typically research economic issues, collect data, analyze data using mathematical models or statistical techniques, present results in tables, charts, and reports, interpret and forecast trends, advise businesses and recommend solutions.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for economists was $105,020 in May 2019- meaning that half of the economists earn less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary based on a wide range of factors, including the economist’s level of experience, expertise, and the region of employment.
Entry-level economists can earn less than $60,000 a year while those who have a few years of experience may make more than $185,000 a year.
Economist Salary by Industry
Economists typically work for research companies, international organizations, corporations, or federal or local governments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 21,000 economists employed in 2018.
The federal government employed 22% of them while 19% of all economists worked in the field of scientific research and 13% worked for companies that provide management, scientific, and technical consulting services.
About 9% of economists worked for the state government and 6% of them worked in the finance and insurance field.
Economists who worked for finance and insurance companies earned a median annual wage of $120,770 a year while those who worked for the federal government earned a median annual wage of $119,580 a year.
The median annual salary was $114,580 for economists who worked in scientific research and $108,190 for those who were employed by management, scientific, and technical consulting companies.
Economists who were employed by state governments earned a median annual wage of $73,400.
In conclusion, salaries vary widely depending on the industry, and an economist who works for an insurance company, for example, can make more than double the salary earned by an economist who works for the state government.
However, there are many other factors that determine how much an economist earns, including his/her level of experience and the region of employment.
Economist Salary by Compensation Structure
Economists typically earn a fixed salary plus bonuses, commission and some also receive a share of the company’s profit.
According to a report published by payscale.com, economists can make anywhere between $514-$21,000 a year in bonuses, between $485-$10,000 in profit sharing and up to $8,000 a year in commissions.
The exact numbers vary depending on the economist’s level of experience, their role within the company, their skills, and performance.
According to the same report, many of them (approximately 85%) receive health benefits while 68% of them have dental insurance.
These numbers show that this profession is well remunerated and as an economist, you can also receive, bonuses, commission, and other perks.
However, as with any profession, your total compensation depends on your level of education, skills, and the company’s performance.
For example, if you hold a Ph.D. and you also have a few years of experience working at a large company you can make more than $200,000 a year but if you’re a beginner your salary can be less than $50,000 a year.
In general, job prospects for economists are expected to be good, especially for those who hold a Ph.D. or a master’s degree and have strong analytical skills and experience using data analysis and statistical software.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for economists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028.
This growth is explained in part by the fact that the global economy is becoming increasingly complex and more businesses and organizations rely on economic analysis and quantitative methods to analyze business trends and to make decisions.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Economists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.