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Financial Sector, Including Insurance, Sees Job Gains

Posted on 11 Jan 2010

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The bright spot in last week's disappointing jobs report was the fact that the financial-activities sector of the economy added jobs for the first time since July 2007.

Financial activities showed a net gain of 4,000 jobs in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning, to 7,695,000, from 7,691,000. According to Bloomberg data, that's the first gain since the summer of 2007, when the sector had a total of about 8.3 million jobs.

Excluding real-estate-related jobs in the financial area, the number was even better. Finance and insurance alone added 9,900 jobs last month, also the first increase since July 2007.

“The general idea is that the economy is turning, the financial sector is turning, and this is unequivocally a positive,” said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak + Co.

The broader question, Mr. Greenhaus said, is how fast other sectors can turn around and boost the economy. Based on the overall middling numbers in the report, “It doesn't look like we're set up for an explosion of job growth” like that U.S. economy has experienced following other recessions, he said.

Other sectors that added jobs last month included temporary help, education, and health care. The health care industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted, has added 631,000 jobs since the recession began.