Insurance Employment Report: Jobs Outlook Improving, Slowly

Looking for work can be an exhausting, soul-draining endeavor during the best of economic times. It goes without saying that job searching is considerably more challenging these days, when the U.S. unemployment rate is still hovering above eight percent, with a long-term joblessness plaguing the employment market.

On the brighter side, the property/casualty insurance jobs outlook is slowly, gradually getting better — or at least not getting worse. A growing number of insurance businesses are hiring more workers this year, while many others are still making do with their current staff level, keeping an eye on the economic recovery and the gradually firming rates.

What happens in the insurance industry has repercussions for the rest of the country. The entire insurance sector, which the Insurance Information Institute estimates employs 2.2 million Americans, is an important part of the overall U.S. employment market.Job OpeningsA national survey by insurance recruiting firm The Jacobson Group in March showed that 51 percent of 112 insurers said they may hire more workers this year. That's up from 44 percent in a similar survey last year. But a significant percentage, 30 percent, said they will keep their current staff level. Unfortunately, 20 percent also said they might actually reduce staff this year, which shows that the job market improvement is still tenuous at best.A national association for independent agencies says the jobs outlook is slowly getting better. Diane Mattis, associate vice president of professional development at the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, says she's seeing more job postings this year on her group's job board, This job site currently lists more than 100 vacancies from across the country.Marsh USA in New York has 140 openings advertised online.Looking at major U.S. insurance companies with online careers sections, there are a number of national P/C insurance carriers with a significant job vacancies advertised on their online career web pages:Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual posted more than 500 U.S. job openings in the past month alone. The job vacancies for the Boston-based insurer include: actuarial analyst in Boston, actuary in Seattle and agricultural/farm underwriting manager in Portland. Ore. But the competition is fierce, “as we receive thousands of applications every month,” said Liberty Mutual spokesperson Adrianne Kaufmann.

At The Travelers Companies, there are some 360 U.S. job opportunities listed in its jobs section. These vacancies for the Hartford, Conn., carrier include: business center team manager in Houston, claim representative in Little Rock, Ark., and account manager in Colorado Springs, Colo.

At Allstate Corp., some 500 U.S. jobs listed online for the Northbrook, Ill.-based insurer include: theft claims service specialist in Hudson, Ohio, and financial analyst in Malvern, Penn.

State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Ill., posted more than 100 new U.S. jobs on its website in recent weeks. Farmers Insurance Group in Los Angeles has almost 200 jobs listed on its website. CNA Financial Corp. in Chicago has 170 vacancies listed online.

Advice From Pros

Job-seekers are advised to not get discouraged and remember that there is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

“My advice to job-seekers is that if you are unemployed, you need to make finding a job your full-time job,” advised Todd Mitchell, who operates New York-based insurance recruiting firm Todd Mitchell Associates.

Kim McCauley, chief human resource officer at Narragansett Bay Insurance Co. in Pawtucket, R.I., added that job-seekers must reach out to contacts and continue to network, keeping in mind that only 20 percent of all job opportunities ever get advertised.

Savvy candidates are increasingly utilizing social media, such as LinkedIn, to directly contact and engage potential employers. “As an employer, we see that the social media have become more prevalent,” said Shawn Tubman, manager of corporate employment at Liberty Mutual. “Social media has given candidates a good avenue to connect directly with the company. That’s really different from years past.”

Around the Country

Employment prospects vary greatly by employer, region and job specialty. For a closer look, Insurance Journal editors interviewed property/casualty industry leaders in their respective regions and will be filing the following reports this week:

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