The U.S. insurance industry added 1,000 jobs in October, a 0.04% increase from where the industry stood in September. October's seasonally adjusted uptick marked the third straight month of growth and showed that the industry continued the upward trajectory it has seen since March, according to the latest employment report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The BLS figures released Nov. 2 showed that industry employment increased by 12,500 jobs in 2012.
On a year-to-year basis, the industry, which currently has a 2.29 million-job work force, has added 8,100 jobs since October 2011.
The BLS also provided adjusted employment figures for September that showed the industry added 1,500 jobs between August and September. That figure is down from the 2,800 new jobs BLS had previously reported.
Nationally, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 114,000, with most of that growth coming from the health care, transportation and warehousing sectors. The BLS said employment remained roughly the same in most other major industries.
Nationally, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 171,000 last month. The BLS reported that much of the job growth was in professional and business services, health care and retail trade.
However, the unemployment rate saw a slight uptick last month, going from 7.8% in September to 7.9% this month. September's unemployment rate marked the lowest it has been since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.
Just four days out from Election Day, it did not take long before candidates began circulating statements on the political ramifications of the last jobs report before voters head to the polls. The mixed outcome of the report both overall employment and the unemployment rate rising offered something for both Republicans and Democrats to use as a political cudgel.
Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement that the increase in employment "provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression."
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's economic adviser Glenn Hubbard said in a statement that the uptick in the unemployment rate "only further underscore[s] the fact that President Obama has failed to fulfill his promise to restore the strength of our economy."
Whatever effect the jobs report has on next week's elections, the industry's job growth in 2012 has likely heartened the insurance community after several years of months-long drops in employment.
Total insurance industry payrolls are reported each month on a seasonally 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.
In September, the monthly additions to the insurance work force affected reinsurance (up 0.72% to 27,900 jobs) and third-party administration of insurance funds (up 0.07% to 138,100 jobs).
Sectors that saw monthly declines in employment included health (down 0.16% to 428,700 jobs); property/casualty (down 0.06% to 528,300 jobs); title insurance (down 0.69% to 72,100 jobs); and agents/brokers (down 0.53% to 651,000 jobs).
Claims adjusting held flat at 49,300 jobs.
On a year-to-year basis, the jobs added to the insurance industry since September 2011 came in health (up 0.37% from 427,100 jobs); property/casualty (up 0.3% from 526,700 jobs); title insurance (up 3.15% from 69,900 jobs); reinsurance (up 5.68% from 26,400); agents/brokers (up 1.26% from 642,900 jobs); and third-party administration of insurance funds (up 1.47% from 136,100 jobs).
Life insurance (down 2.27% from 343,300 jobs) and claims adjusting (down 0.20% from 49,400 jobs) both saw a decline in employment since last year.
In terms of weekly wage changes between September 2011 and September 2012, all sectors but health insurance saw an increase to their weekly pay. Health insurance weekly wages dropped 1.69% to $1,233.20.
Weekly wages rose in life (24.80% to $1,448.69); property/casualty (8.15% to $1,297.88); title insurance (8.46% to $1,167.70); and agents/brokers (7.32% to $1,103.34).
Three sectors saw double-digit increases to their weekly wages. Claims adjusting weekly wages increased 21.43% to $1,242.40 and title insurance wages went up 12.12% to $1,066.77. Reinsurance continued its long-running streak of posting the most dramatic increase, jumping 32.1% to 2,121.96.