By MATTHEW BRODSKY, senior editor/Web editor of Risk & Insurance®
When the Insurance Information Institute
(III) released its insurance
employment report this month, the one-month drop in jobs of 3,200 got some attention. But you want to see scary? Search the report for the graphic on U.S. employment in the direct P/C insurance industry from 1990-2010 and check out the plummet that took place in 2008. Look out below!
The industry lost 28,900 jobs, or 5.9 percent, from Dec. 2007 (the official start of the recession) to Sept. 2010. You'll need your parachute, too, for the agents and brokers subsector, which saw a drop of 53,100 jobs, or 7.8 percent in this time frame. Nothing might break the fall in the claims adjusting space, where employment was down 16.3 percent--or 8,600 jobs--versus a decline of 7.2 percent for the overall U.S. economy.
Of course, according to the institute, the overall U.S. economic malaise is to blame, as well as insurance-specific trends: consolidation, productivity enhancements and the soft market.
For Gregory P. Jacobson, co-CEO of the insurance staffing and recruitment firm the Jacobson Group, the biggest factor is the latter. That steep drop in employment figures in 2008/2009 was the industry's "capitulation" to the soft market.
"They could no longer afford to wait for the change in the market," he said.
Jacobson, though, sees a bright future--and even a more promising present--than perhaps the Insurance Information Institute depicts in its graphs. He believes a jobs recovery is in process for the overall economy, with hiring of temp workers up 23.4 percent over the last 12 months. As a leading provider of talent to the insurance industry, Jacobson's firm has the vantage to see this trend playing out. He has seen a "sharp" upturn in demand for temp staffing services in insurance in the last six months. Permanent hiring, he said, always follows temp hiring.
In fact, Jacobson is already seeing opportunity everywhere. In particular, you should be excited if you're an executive in the property/casualty business. He's had six CEO searches in the P/C space alone recently, five of them due to planned retirements that had been put off until the stock market recovered.
Jay D'Aprile, senior vice president at Slayton Search Partners in Chicago, received a call on the same day he spoke with Risk & Insurance® from a P/C carrier in need of a chief claims officer and a chief underwriting officer. Two such executives, the executive headhunter said, are approaching mandatory retirement and the company needs to go outside to find young superstar talent.
Sure, some companies in the soft market are hesitant to pull the trigger on such big staffing decisions.
"Companies are a little bit afraid to make those decisions looking out six to nine months," D'Aprile said.
Yet he has noticed that finance and claims execs are in demand in this soft market because they can help manage costs, and D'Aprile has seen greater demand for new senior-level talent at the larger carriers.
According to a survey conducted in July by the Jacobson Group and Ward Group, for commercial P/C carriers, the three positions most likely to see an increase in hiring are technology, underwriting and claims. About 75.3 percent of P/C carriers responded that they planned to either increase or maintain staff in the next 12 months.
Eventually, those numbers will have to improve because, stalled recovery or not, the industry is still old, getting older.
"The demographics of the industry have not changed," Jacobson said. "There could be supply and demand issues in the relatively near future for insurance talent."
November 22, 2010
Copyright 2010© LRP Publications