FINSwire Aug 12 2010

Health-Insurance Jobs Ailing

By finswire team

The employment picture for life insurers and property/casualty insurers may be healing, but health insurers may still feel the need for a pain-killer.

That seems to be the diagnosis based on the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, analyzed by the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.

Life insurers took on 1,900 employees in June, a 0.55% increase, and now have 345,000 workers. Employment in that part of the insurance industry has now clawed nearly all the way back to the level it was at in January, according to the institute.

Property/casualty insurers -- carriers who cover damage to homes and cars, as well as business losses -- also added 1,700 employees. "This holds the promise of reversing a trend that started in August 2009 of reducing employment every month," the institute said. The additions amounted to a 0.37% increase from May, to 464,100 employees in the sector.

Health insurers, on the other hand, cut 1,900 jobs, a 0.44% drop, and now employ 434,600 people. June was the fourth consecutive down month for those firms, the institute said.

To be sure, health insurers have still pared back far less than the other two sectors. Employment by health insurers is still only 1.7% lower than it was in December 2007, compared to a 2.6% decline for life insurers and 5.5% for property/casualty insurers, according to the institute.

And all three are faring better than U.S. employment overall during that period, which is down 7.2%. But that's probably not much solace to insurance industry veterans who've lost their jobs and are looking for sustained signs of hope.

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