(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Increased business volume across industry sectors is the biggest contributor to an expected swell of hiring where fifty percent of all companies plan to increase staff over the next 12 months, leaving industry employment growing at the fastest rate since the recession began.

The uplifting results are detailed in the Semi-Annual Insurance Labor Market Study conducted by The Jacobson Group and Ward Group.

The study’s participants included 112 companies, 62 of which are regional and 50 national or multinational. Of those, 87% were property & casualty, 11% were life & health and 2% were reinsurers. The average number of employees of all the participants was 2,755 but, as the study found, that is expected to grow.

The likelihood of companies increasing staff is up 4.5% since July 2011 making that the greatest percentage of companies anticipating an increase in staff since the study began in July 2009.

Revenue growth is expected among many of the companies surveyed; 69% plan to increase revenues in the next 12 months. In direct correlation with the revenue growth, 51% plan to increase staff for that sole reason.

Comparing staffing plans from January 2011, 67% of life and health participants plan on increasing staff compared to 53% last year while 50% of property and casualty respondents plan to increase staff compared with 42% last year. The use of temporary employees will remain stagnant for the most part with 76% of respondents saying there will be stasis when it comes to temporary employees.

Over the last year the industry grew faster than expected, at 1.66% versus an anticipated rate of 0.80%. The life and health industry grew 2.97% versus an anticipated rate of 1.74% while the property and casualty industry grew 1.39% versus an anticipated rate of 0.78 percent.

The outlook is not all rosy however. Recruitment is a nagging problem and the report states that it is “moderately difficult to fill all positions.” Product line has an impact on recruitment but there are other factors at play.

Gregory Jacobson, chief executive of the Jacobson group told National Underwriter, “In general, the industry typically has a significantly lower unemployment rate then the general economy, due to its relative stability. The recruiting difficulties rest primarily with the fact that the industry has an older workforce than virtually all other industries and has done relatively little over the past 20 years to develop and train new talent. Recruiting will likely get more difficult in the future.”

The study expects the industry as a whole to see a 1.39% increase in new industry employment over the next 12 months with life and health employment expected to see a 3.45% increase. “Ultimately, the most significant factor is going to be growth. Currently, it seems that life companies are adding staff to recover from the reductions made during the crisis. In order for hiring to continue at this pace, the economy will have to stabilize and grow at a faster rate than it is currently,” Jacobson said.