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Declining Agent/Broker Jobs: Sign of the Times or Just a Blip?

One of the insurance industry’s leading economists, Insurance Information Institute President Robert Hartwig, Ph.D., CPCU, pointed out in a recent PropertyCasualty360 article that the latest job stats show a recent decline in agent/broker employment:

“Agents and brokers shed 500 jobs in March [2013], 1,000 in February, 300 in January, and 1,200 in December [2012]. In his analyses for all of those months, Hartwig called the drops unusual compared to historical trends.”

See the article here: PropertyCasualty360: P&C Carriers Lose Jobs in April; Agent and Broker 2013 Employment Slide Continues

Is this decline a sign of the times amidst a lasting trend for the industry? Or is it a proverbial hiccup in the numbers?

Retirements, slow growth of premiums, cost pressures, and a shortage of qualified workers are all factors impinging on the workforces of independent agencies – factors making it difficult to hire and keep qualified insurance agency workers including producers. On the other hand, economic pressures that are leading workers to work longer and postpone retirement are helping retention. Plus, agency owners that anticipated selling their agency and riding off into the sunset are finding that, for a variety of reasons, they want to stay on.

Meanwhile, insurance agent/broker employment was up on an annual basis, noted the article: “Year-over-year though, the story for agents and brokers is brighter, as they have added 4,500 jobs since April 2012.”

My view is that the boomer age wave is well upon the industry and the decline in agent/broker jobs is simply another manifestation of that. Other issues that aren’t necessarily reflected in federal government employment statistics are the trends toward using outsourced staff, tapping technology to shortcut previous lengthy work processes, and turning to consultants, part-time professionals, and project workers to fill in gaps. For example, a remote outsourced worker who replaces a retired worker likely is not going to show up in employment figures as holding a “job.”

WAHVE sees very strong demand for workers in the agent/broker sector in both personal lines and commercial lines. In fact, WAHVE has active job searches because agencies simply can’t find qualified workers locally.  There is no doubt: Agents and brokers want to hire qualified, experienced insurance professionals. Know any? Let us know.

— Sharon Emek, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Work At Home Vintage Experts (WAHVE)

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