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Labor Stats Show Insurance Industry Still Losing Jobs

Source: Bestwire

Posted on 08 Sep 2010

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According to the latest employment report of August numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the insurance industry is still losing jobs, albeit in a more moderate rate. The decline from the previous month was 4,400, not the 4,800 jobs originally reported.

The overall national tally for nonfarm jobs was also down 54,000, continuing the nationwide slump, but private numbers were up, and it was the expected loss of 114,000 federal census workers that dragged down the total. The news -- which also showed the unemployment rate relatively steady at 9.6% -- was greeted positively by financial experts who had been looking for a more substantial slip.

The report, released Sept. 3, showed that the 12-month trend for U.S. job totals is actually up 0.2% in that time, compared with a 2.5% slide in the insurance sector, which hasn't shown any signs of abating. Since the recession, the insurance industry has demonstrated a steady string of down months. The seasonally adjusted insurance employment total was at 2.178 million in August. Also, month-to-month pay volatility has continued, though at this point generally favoring insurance workers.

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 non-carrier categories — are available only on an unadjusted basis for the prior month.

Based on just-released July 2010 data, no insurance sector has seen year-to-year growth in employment since July 2009 — not even the health sector, which had held onto meager 12-month growth until recently. However, three sectors did see month-to-month improvements, though the once-strong health sector experienced a dramatic drop of 4,100 jobs in the month, accounting for most of the industry's July decline. Life insurers' year-over-year jobs were down 1.6% to 343,900. Health insurers were also down 1.6% over the year to 430,600. Property/casualty insurers had dropped 3.7% to 464,200. Agents and brokers hit 631,700 total jobs, marking a 2.5% decline for the year, but the sector picked up 700 jobs from June to July. Title insurers were down 8.5% to 65,600; reinsurers were 5.1% lower to 25,900; claims adjusters slid 9.9% to 43,900, though there was a gain of 400 jobs in the last month; and third-party administrators were off 3% to 125,800 -- with no month-to-month change.

Recent positive trends have continued for average weekly earnings for nonsupervisory positions in the industry, showing all eight categories up between July 2009 and July 2010 — some of them jumping considerably. However, though pay had seen universal decreases in month-to-month stats in the previous month's report, that has mostly reversed itself in this latest data. All but two of the categories have seen moderate monthly gains, though the month-to-month numbers have show recent volatility.