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10 worst states for health insurer worker pay trends

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Recently, we’ve been using new Census Bureau business data to analyze state-by-state trends in health insurance company employment. 

We used head count data for 2003 and 2013 to determine which states gained the highest percentage of health insurer jobs and which lost the highest percentage.

Of course, figures lie and liars figure. It’s hard to know, just from looking at Census Bureau head counts, how stable and lucrative any new jobs gained are, or how rewarding, or soul-crushing, any jobs lost actually were. 

This time around, we’ve looked at the data a different way: By dividing payroll totals by head counts with average payroll amounts per health insurer worker for 2003 and for 2013.

These are average figures, not median figures. It’s possible that a relatively small number of highly paid executives could have thrown off the averages in some states.

Another problem is that the Census Bureau entries for 14 states and the District of Columbia lacked some of the data needed to compute payroll-per-worker averages. This article is really about health insurer pay trends in just 36 states.

Average payroll changes ranged from a drop of 6 percent in one state up to an increase of 81 percent in another. The average state in this small data analysis had a health insurer worker payroll increase of 45 percent, to about $72,000.

Throughout the country, average payroll per worker for all economic sectors in the Census Bureau survey data increased 36 percent, to about $47,500.

In the financial services and insurance category as a whole, average payroll per worker increased 61 percent, to about $89,000.

In the health insurance sector, one interesting wrinkle is that many of the states with the lowest (or negative) growth in average payroll per worker were the states with biggest growth in the new number of health insurer jobs. In other words: Insurers in those states may have added workers, but it doesn’t look as if those workers were bringing in the big bucks.

See also: Consultants: Temp strategy hurt Oregon exchange

For a look at the 10 states with the ugliest looking payroll-per-health-insurer worker trends, along with the 10-year growth rates for those states’ health insurer employment levels, read on.

Boston's Back Bay

10. Massachusetts

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $82,296

2003: $58,848

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 40%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 60%

See also: 30 of the most livable cities for baby boomers 

Image: Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood (TS photo/Jorge Salcedo) 

Shenandoah River Valley 

9. Virginia

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $72,394

2003: $53,170

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 36%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 63%

See also: Recession-scarred U.S. states ill-prepared for next fiscal shock

Image: Shenandoah River Valley (TS photo/Alex Mann)

Birmingham, Ala.

8. Alabama

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $83,462

2003: $61,376

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 36%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 49%

See also: Medicaid expansion may cut hospitals’ losses on caring for poor

Image: Birmingham, Ala. (TS photo/Jeremy Edwards) 

Silver Falls, near Salem, Oregon

7. Oregon

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $62,936

2003: $48,005

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 31%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 31%

See also: View: Oregon shows Obamacare remaking insurance market 

Image: Silver Falls waterfall, near Salem, Ore. (TS photo/John Anderson) 

More on this topic

Ohio's Stone Bridge

6. Ohio

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $69,676

2003: $53,376

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 31%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 58%

See also: GOP leaders consider preserving PPACA subsidies until after the 2016 election 

Image: Ohio’s Stone Bridge (TS photo/Doug Lemke)

Wall Street rock formation, in Utah

5. Utah

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $65,649

2003: $52,301

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 26%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 59%

See also: Utah governor: Make our existing exchange our PPACA exchange 

Image: Wall Street, in the Narrows Zion National Park in Utah

Maine lobsters

4. Maine

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $69,511

2003: $55,780

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 25%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 13%

See also: 19 PPACA exchange gorillas: 9 are pushing rates higher in 2015 

Image: Maine lobsters (TS photo/Marla Chebby)

A lake in Missouri

3. Missouri

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $63,966

2003: $52,695

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 21%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 71%

See also: Mo. Senate, House panels defeat Medicaid expansion 

Image: A Missouri lake (TS photo/Weldon Shloneger) 

A volcano in Hawaii

2. Hawaii

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $51,072

2003: $46,060

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: 11%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 122%

See also: Hawaii exchange seeks funding for orderly shutdown 

Image: A volcano in Hawaii 

San Juan mountains

1. Colorado

Payroll per health insurer employee:

2013: $64,245

2003: $68,470

Payroll change, from 2003 to 2013: -6%

Change in health insurer worker count, 2003-2013: 115%

See also: How to get health brokers to love you

Image: Colorado’s San Juan Mountains