|Copyright:||A.M. Best Company, Inc.|
The insurance industry saw yet another disappointing month in the latest employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dropping 6,900 jobs in June. That mirrored a 125,000-job slip in the nationwide numbers, a reversal of what had been a months-long period of mild growth in the overall employment picture. Though insurance jobs are down, however, the industry pay has seen substantial recent gains.
The national report, released July 2, tracked with financial analysts’ views that the U.S. recovery has been facing a rough patch. However, much of the national decline represented the reduction of temporary workers who had been hired for Census 2010, the report noted. Private employment was actually up by 83,000.
In an element of positive news, the 9.7% unemployment rate, which many analysts had expected to tick upward, fell to 9.5%.
The seasonally adjusted insurance employment total was at 2.179 million in June, so far failing to share the signs from other sectors that they are pulling out of the hole created by the recession. In the most recent 12 months of data on insurance employment, the decline has been steady from month to month, and the overall drop has been 3.1%, outpacing the 12-month drop of 0.1% in all nonfarm jobs nationwide.
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 May 2010 data, health insurers again proved to be the only insurance sector that’s seen year-to-year growth in employment. Jobs in that sector rose by 1,100 — or 0.3% — since May 2009 to 436,500, though the category had seen a slide in month-to-month numbers, declining 1,000 jobs between April and May.
In this report, only two insurance employment categories showed a month-to-month gain: reinsurers, who gained 200 positions to 25,600, though the category had declined 7.6% over 12 months, and third-party administrators, who gained 700 jobs over the month, though the category had declined 4% to 126,300 year-over-year. Life insurers were down 2.8% between 2009 and 2010 to 343,200; property/casualty insurers were down 4% to 462,500; title insurers declined 6.7% to 67,000; agents and brokers, the largest category, slipped 3% to 629,500; and claims adjusters fell 12.1% to 43,500, having stayed even month-to-month.
Recent positive trends have continued for average weekly earnings for nonsupervisory positions in the industry, showing all eight categories up between May 2009 and May 2010 — some of them jumping considerably. Month-to-month numbers were also universally higher from April to May, with several categories seeing significant recent gains — most notably property/casualty, reinsurers, claims adjusters and agents and brokers.
Health insurers’ pay has risen 5% year-over-year to $991.80 a week. Life insurers averaged $1,048.73 a week, up 7.3% from the year before and marking a bump of more than $20 from the previous month; property/casualty at $1045.98, up 5.4% for the year and marking a gain of more than $31 in the month; title insurers at $961.16, up 15.9%; reinsurance at $967.19, up 16.7%, and showing the largest one-month increase of any category at almost $53; agents and brokers at $832.52, up 10.3%, with a jump by almost $48 in the month; claims adjusters at $957.97, up 8.3%, and seeing a month-to-month gain of more than $47; and third-party administrators at $782.59, up 3.1% since May 2009.
(Jesse A. Hamilton, Washington bureau manager: Jesse.Hamilton@ambest.com)