The Wall Street Journal reports that “Corporate Economists Are Hot Again.”
With more data available than ever before and markets increasingly unpredictable, U.S. companies—from manufacturers to banks and pharmaceutical companies—are expanding their corporate economist staffs. The number of private-sector economists surged 57% to 8,680 in 2012 from 5,510 in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, Wells Fargo had one economist in its corporate economics department. Now, it has six.
The key to the revival of in-house economists, companies and economists say, is the need to digest huge amounts of data—from production volumes in overseas markets to laptop usage in urban areas—to determine opportunities and risks for companies’ business units, not just in the U.S. but around the world.
As those of you who read this blog probably already know, we think that life as an economist is pretty awesome. And it’s not just us saying it, either. Here’s Noah Smith from the Noahpinion blog who says it thusly:
People often ask me: “Noah, what career path can I take where I’m virtually guaranteed to get a well-paying job in my field of interest, which doesn’t force me to work 80 hours a week, and which gives me both autonomy and intellectual excitement?” Well, actually, I lied, no one asks me that. But they should ask me that, because I do know of such a career path, and it’s called the economics PhD.
“What?!!”, you sputter. “What about all those articles telling me never, ever, never, never to get a PhD?! Didn’t you read those?! Don’t you know that PhDs are proliferating like mushrooms even as tenure-track jobs disappear? Do you want us to be stuck in eternal postdoc hell, or turn into adjunct-faculty wage-slaves?!”
To which I respond: There are PhDs, and there are PhDs, and then there are econ PhDs.
The emphasis is mine and I scrubbed the links, but the sentiment remains. A highly recommended read for the thinking-about-a-Ph.D. set.