US Insurance Industry Sees Jobs Gain in December
January 8, 2010 by Jesse Hamilton
|Copyright:||A.M. Best Company, Inc.|
After a long period of decline, the U.S. insurance industry saw an uptick in employment in December jobs numbers, with a gain of 2,700 jobs, according to seasonally adjusted data released Jan. 8 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The national unemployment rate stuck at 10%, but the report disappointed many economists who had predicted the jobs picture may see its first positive report this month — instead showing an overall loss of 85,000 jobs.
Insurance employment was at 2.245 million in December. In further good news for the insurance industry, the previous month’s reported decline was revised from 2,400 to 1,400. In the most recent 12 months, insurance jobs have fallen by 46,700, or 2% — significantly less than the 3.1% decline seen in nonfarm jobs nationwide.
Since the start of the recession-based decline in employment in December 2007, the United States has seen its unemployment rolls spike from 7.7 million to 15.3 million. The decline has begun to flatten in recent months, though. And — as in the case of the insurance numbers — there was a silver lining for the nationwide report: those previous-month numbers were also revised to show an actual slight gain of 4,000 last month instead of a loss of 11,000.
Total insurance industry payrolls are reported each month on a seasonably adjusted basis, along with the current month’s nonfarm payrolls. Separately, data by industry segment — broken out by various insurance carrier and noncarrier categories — are available only on an unadjusted basis for the prior month.
Based on just-released November 2009 data, health insurers again proved to be the only sector that’s seen year-to-year growth in employment. Jobs in that sector rose 1.7% since November 2008 to 464,400, and the category was also up 1,700 jobs month-to-month.
In another sign of progress, four other categories also posted month-to-month gains from October to November 2009: title insurers, agents and brokers, third-party administrators and claims adjusters, though all the gains were minimal. In year-over-year numbers, however, title insurers were down 7.9% to 67,900 jobs; agents and brokers fell 2.2% to 648,600; third-party administrators dropped 6.2% to 121,900; and claims adjusters declined 15% to 46,500. In the remaining categories, life insurers were down 3.2% to 344,700, property/casualty declined 3.4% to 469,900; and reinsurers fell 5.5% to 27,700.
As has been the case in past months, average weekly earnings for nonsupervisory positions in the industry were mostly up between November 2008 and November 2009 — except for claims adjusters, who received $900.47 a week, down 1% from the year before, and third-party administrators, who were paid $773.30, down 2.3%. In month-to-month numbers, though, all sectors were up — a few of them significantly.
Life insurers averaged $1,028.81, up 6% from the year before; health insurers were at $947.87, up 1.9%; property/casualty employees at $1,017.34, up 1.9%; title insurers at $844.83, up less than 1%; reinsurers at $889.13, up 14%; and agents and brokers at $784.78, up 3.4% over 2008.
(Jesse A. Hamilton, Washington bureau manager: Jesse.Hamilton@ambest.com)