Job opportunity

Postdoctoral Opportunities at the Economic Research Service


USDA’s Economic Research Service, located in Washington, D.C., is a primary source of economic information and research in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With 300 employees, ERS conducts a research program to inform and enhance public and private decision making on economic and policy issues involving food, farming, natural resources, and rural development.

Postdoctoral researchers at ERS conduct both independent and collaborative research on issues that matter, and enjoy a challenging environment in which to continue their professional careers. Selected candidates will work independently and in partnerships with coworkers from diverse backgrounds and will interact with other professionals through team projects, seminars, and collaboration with peers in other agencies and academia. ERS anticipates several openings for Postdoctoral positions to build a program of research and data development in the following areas:

  • ·         Agricultural trade and policy expertise focused on Asian countries, especially those in the critically important South and Southeast Asia regions.  The position will explore opportunities for expanding trade with these regions based on in-depth assessments of their domestic supply and demand, trade and domestic policies, and food security needs. 
  • ·         Emerging agricultural trade issues in the context of high-income countries such as the EU, Japan and Korea.  The implications of new trade agreements among these countries and regions for U.S. agriculture will be a critical focus of the position.
  • ·         Development and management of food expenditures data and research. The Food Expenditures Series (FES) is one of ERS’s premiere data products, with an expanding policy presence for food industry groups, academic researchers, and with close linkages to other Federal statistical agencies. The position involves updating and managing the FES as well as conducting research on food markets, prices, and industrial organization issues relating to food industries. The researcher will also participate in a new project to develop state-level estimates of food at home and food away from home.
  • ·         Economic impacts of rural broadband investment.  The researcher will develop a program of research on the benefits of broadband investment in rural areas, including analysis of how broadband access related to USDA programs affects economic indicators such as rural small-business startups, growth, and survival, and commercial, agricultural and residential property values. The researcher will play a key role collaborating with extramural partners to create and exploit “Big Data” systems for this project.
  • ·         Development and implementation of a new Survey of Irrigation Organizations being developed by ERS. The survey will provide the first updated dataset of local water management entities since the 1978 Census of Irrigation Organizations.  The researcher would be involved in all aspects of the survey approach, questionnaire design, and stakeholder outreach; and in related research examining the role of institutions in drought resilience and farm management decisions.

Working at ERS

ERS offers a stimulating intellectual environment with ample potential for personal and professional growth. Our staff includes over 200 economists and other social scientists working on timely, policy-relevant research and employing advanced econometric and modeling approaches applied to extensive data and GIS resources. Results are disseminated in high-quality peer-reviewed reports and other publications and on our much-visited website. ERS analysts are also expected to publish in peer-reviewed academic journals and in papers presented to academic colleagues at conferences and meetings, further enhancing their professional credentials.

Salary and Benefits

The annual salary for these positions (including locality pay) is $92,421.  A career with the U.S. Government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. Benefits include eligibility for health insurance and life insurance. Appointees also earn annual and sick leave and receive 10 paid holidays per year.


Employment in the Postdoctoral program is a two-year appointment.  A third-year extension is possible depending on the Agency’s research needs and funding.

Eligibility Criteria

Candidates must complete a Ph.D. degree prior to employment. Preference is given to candidates whose degree has been received not more than 4 years prior to employment. Candidates must also be U.S. citizens or permanent residents actively seeking citizenship. Additional information on the employment of noncitizens can be found at:  

How to Apply

Please send the following information to the address below and indicate the position(s) for which you are applying. 

  • Curriculum vitae that includes education and work experience; list of publications, presentations, and honor/awards; exact date or expected date (month/year) of completion of all Ph.D. degree requirements; and a list of three references. Graduates of foreign universities must include proof that their Ph.D. degree is equivalent to one granted by an accredited U.S. college or university.
  • Writing sample, preferably from your dissertation.
  • Copy of your graduate and undergraduate transcripts. (An unofficial transcript is sufficient for the initial application, although you are required to submit official transcripts prior to employment.)
  • Cover letter describing your interests and reasons for applying to specific positions.  The letter should include how you meet the special requirements of the position(s), including information concerning pertinent courses, publications, and accomplishments.
  • Statement of Veterans' preference and Highest Federal civilian grade held (if applicable).

Applications will be reviewed beginning August 15, 2018, and a selection could be made any time after that date. Send your application and supporting materials (electronic submission is strongly encouraged) to:

Cathi T. Ferguson USDA - ERS/HR
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mail Stop 1800
Washington, DC 20250-1800
Phone: 202-694-5405 Fax: 202-245-5605