Occ. Code 2450500










New York State Department of Civil Service


Classification Standard




A Principal Economist plans and administers a major phase of an agency's economic program, provides authoritative professional advice to management on economic matters, and formulates, conducts and supervises the conduct of economic studies and analysis.


Incumbents provide management and others with technical information and interpretation of such economic phenomenon as business trends, commuting patterns, banking, the competitive status of business and industry and possibilities for occupational and industrial growth, labor supply and demand, price of goods and services, employment and unemployment, labor force participation, wages and income, development of new revenue sources, and the impact of State and local taxes on business, individuals and governments.  Such activities are initiated in response to program and mandated needs to provide economic data, interpretations, evaluations and forecasts of economic movements to aid management in the solution of economic problems, and to disseminate labor market and other information to the public.


Positions of Principal Economist are located in only a few agencies.




Principal Economist is the top level class in the Economist series. Typically, incumbents are recognized authorities within the agency and the State service in a particular area of economic activity, usually within a specialized field such as business or labor. As such, Principals serve as consultants and advisors to agency management usually at the policy-making level, providing authoritative, accurate and meaningful professional advice on economic matters and programs. Included are such activities as the development of proposals for legislation requiring the analysis of the anticipated economic effects of alternate plans; identifying, defining and selecting specific economic problems and determining the most productive investigations to undertake; initiating, developing and revising economic projects or studies; and assessing the adequacy of existing economic programs, identifying problems and planning accordingly. Typically, such information is presented to management in detailed and comprehensive written reports.


Incumbents plan, formulate, conduct and supervise the conduct of economic studies of significance, impact and of critical interest to the agency. The staff supervised usually consists of one or more Associate Economists and support professional and clerical positions. Full technical responsibility is assumed by the Principal for interpreting findings and making recommendations concerning the application of findings.


Principal Economists utilize a variety of statistical methods and mathematical techniques as a means of gathering and interpreting quantitative and qualitative information. In addition, incumbents may use the services of information technology specialists and computers. The use of such equipment by Economists, however, is only incidental to the Principal positions whose primary interest is in the subject matter field which requires specific knowledge and competence in economics.


Principal Economists may be classified into the following specializations:  Regulatory Economics and Labor Research. The activities and tasks performed by incumbents in each specialty are similar, the main distinction being the subject matter field in which each works.


Principal Economists (Labor Research) are located in the Department of Labor and specialize in the field of labor economics which is concerned with the operation of the labor market including the preparation and dissemination of information on labor supply and demand, as well as the preparation of reports prescribed by the Federal Department of Labor. In addition, incumbents perform studies of wages and income, working conditions, labor legislation and industrial relations.


Principal Economists (Regulatory Economics) are located in the Department of Public Service and are concerned with the broad range of subjects related to public utility regulations such as demand for utility services, utility rates, environmental problems encountered by utilities, the supply and demand of utility fuels and utility financing.


Senior Economists typically apply economic theory and policies to the systematic collection and analysis of economic information, and prepare or assist in the preparation of interpretative reports on economic studies. Activities related to the design and planning of economic studies and to consultant and advisory services, are performed by higher level professional positions, typically an Associate or Principal Economist.


Associate Economists, usually under the supervision of a Principal Economist, plan, conduct and supervise the conduct of economic studies of a segment of an agency's economic program, provide advice and assistance to agency management within the scope of their area of specialization and program involvement, and make recommendations based on study findings.


Positions whose activities primarily involve the application of statistical theories, techniques and methods to the gathering and interpretation of numerical data and who provide advice and guidance in the use and interpretation of statistical techniques are classified in the Statistician or Biostatistician series.




The following activities performed by Principal Economists are described in greater detail in the Classification Standard for Associate Economist, Occ. Code 2450400. In addition, the level at which a Principal Economist performs these functions is described in the classification criteria and distinguishing characteristics section of this standard.


·      Develops plans for economic studies based on program needs as expressed by agency management.


·      Analyzes or directs the analysis and interpretation of data and recommends a course of action based on study findings.


·      Provides advice, consultation and assistance on economic matters to agency administrators, staff and to others.


·      Prepares or assists in the preparation of agency publications of economic matters.


·      Supervises a staff of professional and clerical positions performing various activities in an economic program.


·      Provides certain administrative functions related to the operation of the economic program including the preparation of budget requests and the preparation of activities and progress reports.


·      Provides or directs staff in providing economic information both orally and in writing in response to requests from individuals and groups within and outside the agency.




A Principal Economist has frequent oral and written communications with persons representing a variety of different backgrounds and interests including representatives of state and federal agencies, the legislature, business and industry and the general public to acquire, share and provide a wide range of data concerning economic studies and programs.  Incumbents confer with and advise Department officials and others on economic matters, participate in meetings and conferences and may make speeches. A close working relationship is maintained with subordinate staff in making assignments, reviewing work and providing instructions and assistance.  Cooperative working relationships are established with agency administrators, program managers and others for the purpose of gaining their support and assistance to insure project objectives are achieved.  The Principal prepares a variety of written documents including study plans and special and regular reports.




Principal Economists typically supervise and direct the activities of subordinate economists and support professional and clerical staff. The incumbent initiates and develops plans, organizes the work to be assigned, assigns projects providing written and oral guidelines and instruction, provides technical guidance and assistance and reviews completed work for accuracy, completeness and logical conclusions.


Incumbents are usually supervised by a bureau director with responsibilities for the conduct of economic and statistical programs. Incumbents work with professional independence, are accountable for the factual accuracy of study results, the thoroughness of the study plan, the validity of the interpretations and the effectiveness of the final presentation. The progress of work performed is reported to the supervisor in periodic conferences and meetings and in summary reports.




·      Good knowledge of the principles and procedures of economics.


·      Good knowledge of the techniques of economic analysis and sources of information relevant to the assigned economic specialty.


·      Good knowledge of the agency's programs, activities, policies and objectives as they affect the work of the economists.


·      Working knowledge of the mathematical and statistical methods utilized in economic analysis relevant to the field of interest.


·      Working knowledge of the measures and indicators of economic activity and their interpretations.


·      Working knowledge of the principles of supervision.


·      Working knowledge of the current developments in the field of economics and economic analysis relevant to the assigned specialty.


·      Basic knowledge of computer related terminology, capabilities and limitations.


·      Ability to plan, organize and carry out economic studies.


·      Ability to apply the techniques of economic analysis to the solution of problems.


·      Ability to apply the established mathematical and statistical techniques used in economic analysis.


·      Ability to prepare comprehensive factual written reports.


·      Ability to supervise a group of employees.


·      Ability to maintain effective working relationships with others.


·      Ability to communicate both orally and in writing with agency representatives and others for the purpose of obtaining, exchanging and providing information.




One year of permanent service as Associate Economist or Associate Economist (Labor Research).



Reviewed:  12/04



NOTE:  Classification Standards illustrate the nature, extent and scope of duties and responsibilities of the classes they describe.  Standards cannot and do not include all of the work that might be appropriately performed by a class.  The minimum qualifications above are those which were required for appointment at the time the Classification Standard was written.  Please contact the Division of Staffing Services for current information on minimum qualification requirements for appointment or examination.