Welcome to the Economics Department

The Economics department at West Valley College is committed to providing objective and high-quality instruction in economics principles and concepts. The goal is to raise the economic and financial literacy of students and provide a set of tools for individuals in their decision-making processes.

Why Major in Economics

If you would like to understand wealth, poverty, growth, trade, money, jobs, income, depression, recession, prices, monopoly -- and study what makes the world work from day to day -- then you will surely be fascinated with the field of economics. Economics concerns all of us. Some of the important questions we try to answer are: Why do we have so much unemployment in a nation as rich as the United States? How is it that unemployment and inflation occur together? What causes inflation? Why are some nations rich and some poor?

Why do nations trade? Who determines how much money is circulating in the economy? Is the stock market important? Why don't we grow faster? What can we do about energy or environmental pollution?

Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources among competing uses, either through conscious public policy or through market forces. It is essentially the science of choice in a world of scarcity. The analytical skill of economists is useful in evaluating alternative methods of achieving society's goals and objectives and in formulating strategies and policies that will help to achieve these objectives.

Economics falls somewhere between the practical and the theoretical; we deal in theories, but there are many economists who use these theories to advise governments and large corporations. The best known and most powerful of these are the economists who form the Council of Economic Advisors, trying to give the President of the United States some help in steering the American economy. To understand how they think, you should take some economics courses and perhaps even major in it, if you like your initial exposure.

(description from SF State Department of Economics)

Job Outlook

Economist median income is $102,490. Social Scientists and Related Workers median income is $76,970. Total of all median occupations is $37,690

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

Economists working for corporations may be involved with forecasting sales of the firm’s products or analyzing growth and market share of the firm’s competitors. Other economists working in the private sector may assist their firm with monitoring environmental and/or labor laws and assessing their impacts on the business. Firms with operations overseas employ economists to observe and assess the economic situations in countries where they do business.

The government also employs many economists to collect and analyze data on production, distribution and consumption of goods and services in the U.S. economy. Economists are also used to assess economic conditions, evaluate the economic impacts of specific laws and/or changes in public policy, and advise policymakers on issues such as telecommunication deregulation, Social Security reform, and tax cuts.

Not-for-profit organizations also have economists at work to collect and analyze socio-economic data and trends that impact their constituents. Economists also assist nonprofit groups that focus on community development and/or raising the standard of living with assessing the value of different projects and grants.

Median pay for economists is above average and growth in employment is as fast as the average for all occupations. For more information on the job outlook for economists, see the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Explore careers in Economics from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Book Recommendations

  • Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarterby Dan Ariely
  • Predictably Irrationalby Dan Ariely
  • The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely
  • In Defense of Globalization by Jagdish Bagwati
  • New Ideas from Dead Economists by Todd Buchholz
  • The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas Friedman
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • The Great Unraveling by Paul Krugman
  • Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak
  • Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Experience by Steve Landsburg
  • WTF?! An Economic Tour of the Weird by Peter Leeson
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
  • Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
  • Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nassar
  • Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins
  • Better Living Through Economics by John J. Siegfried
  • Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz
  • Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz
  • Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard Thaler
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler
  • Trillion Dollar Economists: How Economists and Their Ideas Have Transformed Businessby Robert E Litan


We want to hear from you. If you are an alumnus from any of our classes, or anyone who wants to support our department, we'd like to hear from you. Please email us at: or

Last Updated 1/30/19