Cautious optimism, a term that seems to be bandied about with alarming frequency these days, is in play again when looking at the insurance job market. Last week, a survey from found that the job market for the insurance industry is still grim, but slowly bouncing back. Now, for a second consecutive month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) jobs report confirms this, showing insurance industry employment to still be sliding, while the overall national numbers have begun to bounce back.

Released last Friday, the jobs report contained a glimmer of hope, announcing a 290,000-job increase across all sectors. But that glint of positivity was tempered by the rising of the unemployment rate from what had been a steady 9.7% level for the last three months to 9.9%.

Insurers, meanwhile, reduced their ranks by 5,900 in April. But this is still an improvement from March, which saw a significant loss of 7,900 jobs—revised from the previously stated loss of 9,200 jobs. Carriers' seasonally adjusted insurance employment total was 2.189 million in April. According to BLS statistics, insurers have seen a 3.2% drop in jobs, which is far worse than the 1% decline seen in non-farm jobs nationwide.

Just-released March 2010 data indicates that health insurers are still the only insurance sector to realize year-to-year growth in employment. Health jobs rose by 5,100 (1.2%) since March 2009 to 440,400. BLS found that only P&C companies showed a month-to-month gain in March, rising 200 jobs to 465,500, despite an overall decline of 3.9% over the past year.

As for the other sectors, life insurers have dropped 4.2% between 2009 and 2010 to 343,000; title insurers were down 3% to 66,900; reinsurers declined 9.4% to 25,200; agents and brokers fell 3.4% to 632,000; claims adjusters plummeted 16% to 43,700; and third-party administrators dropped 3.5% to 126,100.



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