Agents, Brokers See Sharp Employment Decline in September

Agent and broker employment in September experienced an expected decline, but the size of the drop was “unusual,” according to Insurance Information Institute President Robert Hartwig.

Agents and brokers shed 3,500 jobs from August to September after adding 300 jobs in August compared to July, according to the latest U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. In an analysis of the figures, Hartwig says, “Employment in this segment often falls in September -- 18 times in the last 22 years -- and this month was no exception, although the size of the drop was unusual.... It had not dropped that much since September 2011.”

He notes that while the number of jobs shed was unusual, the percentage change for agents and broker employment, 0.5 percent, is “fairly common,” having gone up or down by that percentage in 12 of the last 24 months. 

Despite the monthly drop for agents and brokers, employment is up by 8,100 jobs compared to the same month a year ago. Hartwig notes that agent and broker employment has now been over 650,000 since May 2012. 

Property and casualty insurers also experienced an expected drop in employment in September. The sector lost 300 jobs in the month, after losing 1,200 jobs the month before. Prior to the two-month decline, P&C carriers had added jobs in the previous six months.

Employment figures for this sector could be better when October’s figures are released. Hartwig says, “The employment-drop pattern breaks after September. In the past two-plus decades in October, P&C carrier employment rose about half the time and sank about half the time.” In September, he notes, employment has dropped every year for the last 22 years.

P&C employment is up by 1,600 jobs compared to September 2011. 

 

For the insurance industry as a whole, including P&C and life and health, employment for the month dropped by 5,200 jobs, a much sharper decline than the drop experienced in August (700 jobs). Only two sub-sectors saw job growth in the month: reinsurers (up by 200 jobs) and third-party administration (up by 100 jobs).

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