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Employment trends throughout the insurance industry in April 2017

April is generally a month in which P/C carriers add staff, and it shows in the latest employment numbers. (Photo: Shutterstock)
April is generally a month in which P/C carriers add staff, and it shows in the latest employment numbers. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In April 2017, on a year-over-year basis, employment in all major segments of the insurance industry was up to varying degrees.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently published data as of January 2017 on detailed insurance industry employment and found that employment in most segments of the insurance industry was up to varying degrees. Steven Weisbart, Ph.D., CLU, senior vice president and chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute summarized the latest trends across the insurance industry. Data for the last few months are preliminary and are often revised later, but revisions are usually small. 

For the 12 months ending in April 2017, P/C carrier employment rose by 9,700 (+1.7%) to 564,200. April is generally a month in which P/C carriers add staff: since 1990, P/C carrier employment has risen in April 15 times, was flat twice, and fell 11 times.

Here are the latest employment trends in the month of January 2017 for four major industry segments:

Trends

(Photo: Shutterstock) 

1. Life/Annuity carriers 


Employment by life/annuity carriers rose in April 2017 vs. April 2016 (up 5,400, or +1.6%) to 351,700. However, it is hard to see longer-term employment trends in the BLS data for life/annuity carriers because BLS has reclassified some employment that was previously in life/annuity carriers into other subsectors three times since March 2005. Consequently, it is difficult to know what to use for a baseline.

The most recent reclassification ended in March 2015. From then, employment in the life/annuity a segment has generally risen from 318,500.

Related: Survey finds insurers not fully realizing benefits of analytics

High growth

(Photo: Shutterstock)

2. Health carrier segment


The health carrier segment had been gaining jobs quite steadily for decades. However, as with the life/annuity carrier sector, the health carrier sector had a major reclassification beginning in March 2015, which reset the sector’s employment from 517,900 in March 2015 to 457,200 in March 2016. Since then employment in this sector grew to 471,300, up 14,100 or 3.0%.

Now that the Congress and the President aim to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it will be interesting to watch whether this employment growth continues, stalls or reverses.

Related: Significant changes may be ahead for P&C insurance with Republican president and Congress

Agent & brokers

(Photo: Shutterstock)

3. Agent/Broker segment


The agent/broker segment gained 4,100 jobs in April 2017 vs. April 2016 (up 0.5%) to 779,000. Employment growth in this category from 2013 through 2015 was extremely strong. Employment rose by 31,600 in 2013, by 52,300 in 2014, by 27,400 in 2015. Employment growth slowed in 2016 to 7,800 and has been -4,400 in the first four months of 2017.

Related: Uncovered: Setting policy limits for insureds

Reinsurance

(Photo: Shutterstock) 

4. Reinsurance carriers 


Among the smaller industry segments, reinsurance carrier employment in the U.S. was flat April 2017 vs. April 2016 at 24,800. Employment at independent claims-adjusting firms on a year-over-year basis for April 2017 rose by 1,900 (3.4%) to 58,400. This is near the highest that employment at independent claims-adjusting firms has been in at least the last 25 years (the peak was in November 2016 at 59,600).

Year-over-year employment in the category of third-party administration of insurance funds rose by 3,200 (1.7%) to 188,900. This category has grown quite steadily for over two decades, though not as fast as employment at medical expense insurers. It was set back slightly by the Great Recession, but has generally added jobs since then. It's currently at an all-time peak.

Related: Creating a ‘Resilience Movement’

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