Agent/Broker Employment Headed for Pre-Recession Peak

Based on the most recent information from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) recently reported that the agent/broker subsector added a total of 15,000 jobs between June and November 2013. Pending data from December, November’s addition of 3,300 jobs marks the largest increase for agents and brokers in 2013. 

According to the I.I.I. analysis, “Insurance Industry Employment Trends: 1990-2013” by president Robert Hartwig, the agent/broker subsector’s November growth was the largest for any insurance subsector and accounted for more than 50% of the job growth in the insurance industry that month.

The agent/broker subsector has also fared well when compared to overall employment trends. I.I.I. data showed that employment in the U.S. has contracted by 0.9% since the beginning of the recession in December 2007; by contrast, the agent/broker subsector has declined only 0.3% over the same period of time, with significant robust growth over the last few years.  

I.I.I. data also reported that these recent growth trends in the agent/broker subsector belong to a larger trend over the last two decades, which saw a consistent uptick in the subsector while employment in the insurance industry overall remained relatively stagnant. Hartwig added that agent/broker employment currently sits at 676,000 and is “racing” toward its prior peak of 679,300, set in pre-recession July 2007.

“If the recent pace keeps up, employment in this segment will pass that prior peak in one to two months,” Hartwig concluded. Given a projected wave of retirements in the next five to eight years, continued growth is vital for insurance agents and brokers.

Hartwig’s analysis noted that carrier employment was also up in November, but the numbers are not as significant as they are for agents and brokers: between October and November 2013, p-c carriers added 1,800 jobs, making it the best employment month for the subcategory since June 2011; life/annuity carriers added 400 jobs to a sector that has been struggling with dropping employment numbers for decades; and health carriers added 1,000 jobs, continuing steady and consistent employment growth since the early 1990s.

Reinsurance carrier employment rose by 200, while claims adjusting employment declined by 400. Third-party administration added 1,000 jobs.

Joseph Doherty is Big “I” counsel.