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Many Life Insurers Plan to Add Employees: Jacobson

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Low interest rates and COVID-19-related turmoil are squeezing U.S. life, health and annuity issuers — but half expect to add staff over the next 12 months.

One-third expect to maintain current staffing levels, and just 17% expect to downsize, according to analysts at the Jacobson Group and Aon PLC’s Ward unit.


  • A copy of the new Jacobson survey report is available here.
  • An article about 2019 insurance industry labor market survey report is available here.

The Jacobson Group and Aon analysts found that the life, health and annuity issuers were overly optimistic about hiring a year ago, and that those issuers are now more cautious about predicting employment growth.

A year ago, 85% of the life, health and annuity issuers surveyed predicted they’d increase staffing levels. None expected to shrink, and they said they’d increase overall employment by 2.3% in the coming 12 months.

Instead, in reality, only 25% of the life, health and annuity issuers increased staffing levels, and 33% shrank. The issuers now say they hope to increase employment 0.6% in the next 12 months.

The analysts found that the life insurance job market has been much stronger than the overall job market: Overall U.S. unemployment peaked at over 14%, is now over 10%, and is at the highest level in generations.

Insurance sector unemployment stands at 4.8%. That’s up from under 2% for much of the past three years, but it’s down from the range of 6% to 9% experienced from 2010 through 2011, as insurers were dealing with the aftermath of the 2007-2009 Great Recession.

The Survey

The Jacobson and Ward analysts based their insurance labor market figures on results from a voluntary insurer survey.

The analysts did not say how many carriers participated, but they did say that 20% of the participants were life, health and annuity issuers, up from 15% for a similar survey conducted in 2019.

The average size of all participants, including property and casualty insurers and reinsurers, increased to 2,045, from 1,734 for the 2019 survey.

Hot Positions

Life, health and annuity issuers told the survey team they were especially likely to increase the number of employees with technology and actuarial work, and least likely to add executives or product managers.

Issuers of all kinds said they are still having trouble recruiting good actuaries, technology and analytics people. They are having a relatively easy time recruiting people who can handle operations and accounting.

— Read Increased Business Volume Expected to Spur Hiringon ThinkAdvisor.

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