Insurance Industry Employment Trends: 1990-2014

Insurance Industry Employment Trends: 1990-2014

Dr. Robert P. Hartwig, CPCU
July 7, 2014
The U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) just published data as of May 2014 on detailed insurance industry employment, and the I.I.I. website contains updated multi-decade trend data in chart form. (Theinsurance industry/sector-specific data are not seasonally adjusted and are one month behind the national data; accordingly, the report released on July 3 provides national data for June 2014 and industry/sector-specific data for May 2014.) Data for the latest month are preliminary are often revised later, but revisions are usually small. The I.I.I. slides show employment trends for property/casualty (P/C), life/annuity, health (mainly medical expense) insurers, reinsurers, agents and brokers, claims adjusters and third-party administrators.
On a year-over-year basis, in May 2014, overall industry employment in the insurance industry was generally up, with agent/broker employment rising sharply, as did P/C carrier and medical expense carrier employment, but life carrier employment continued to fall.
P/C carrier employment in May 2014 rose vs. May 2013 (up 10,800, or 2.1 percent) to 531,000, continuing to reverse a 29-month long string of year-over-year (y-o-y) employment decreases (the string ran from June 2011 through October 2013). In percentage terms, this rate of year-over-year increase is nearly the largest in 5 and a half years (the April 2014 y-o-y increase was 2.2 percent, and the March y-o-y increase was 2.1 percent; increasesof this magnitude last happened in November 2008, in the midst of the Great Recession). P/C carrier employment is now back to where it was in the first quarter of 2012.
Employment by life/annuity carriers fell again in May 2014 vs. May 2013 (down 500, or -0.1 percent) to 337,700. Life/annuity carrier employment stayed in a range of 340,000, plus or minus 2,000 for all of 2013. In prior years it was higher--in a range of 350,000, plus or minus 2,000 for all of 2011 and the first half of 2012, when it began sinking toward the 340,000 level. This latest drop suggests that the downward trend is continuing.
The health carrier segment is normally a mirror reflection of the life/annuity segment; it has been gaining jobs quite steadily for decades. In May 2014 vs. May 2013 it rose sharply (up 17,100, or 3.7 percent) to 485,400. At least some of this growth is undoubtedly connected with the flood of health insurance applications and purchases as the Affordable Care Act takes full effect.
The agent/broker segment gained 23,000 jobs in May 2014 vs. May 2013 (up 3.5 percent) to 681,300. After losing jobs in the Great Recession (from 682,100 in the first month of the recession, December 2017, to 652,900 inthe first month of recovery (July 2009) and on to a trough of 640,700 in May 2010, the segment has been fairly steadily gaining jobs and is now within sight of the pre-recession peak of 684,500 reached in July 2007.
Among the smaller industry segments, reinsurance carrier employment in the U.S. rose by 800 (+3.0 percent) to27,300 in May 2014 vs. May 2013. Claims adjusting employment on a year-over-year basis for May 2014 fell by 2,400 to 51,100. Employment in the category of third-party administration of insurance funds rose by 5,300 (+3.4 percent) to 163,200. This category has grown quite steadily for over two decades, though not as fast as employmentat medical expense insurers. It was set back slightly by the Great Recession but has generally added jobs since


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