The insurance carriers and related activities sector remained strong in the first quarter of 2021. Initially, the BLS reported a loss of 9,300 insurance jobs for January 2021, marking the first decline since recovery from COVID-19’s impact began in May 2020. However, the BLS revised this number to reflect an increase of 2,300 jobs in January and a loss of just 4,900 roles in February. Accounting for BLS adjustments and a reported increase of 11,200 roles in March 2021, the insurance carriers and related activities sector continues to grow, employing 31,800 more individuals than it did in March 2020.
The insurance industry saw unemployment hold steady at 2.2% in February. However, the industry also experienced its second consecutive month of job losses since recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic began. The majority of losses appear to be in life/health and claims roles. In our Q1 2021 Insurance Labor Outlook Study, conducted in partnership with Aon plc, 14% of life/health insurers shared they were planning to decrease staff in the next 12 months. However, it’s likely this decline is temporary, as 43% of life/health insurers reported plans to increase staff in the same time period. Claims roles also saw a notable decrease, with a 9.5% decline in employment in January* 2021.
The insurance industry saw unemployment decline in January, starting the new year with a 2.2% unemployment rate. This is lower than 2020’s overall average unemployment rate of 3% and even January 2020’s 2.9% unemployment rate.
In December, the U.S. economy saw total employment drop for the first time since April, following several months of slowed job growth. However, the insurance industry ended the year strong, adding 4,900 jobs in December, for a total of 26,400 net new jobs in 2020. Industry wages continued to increase year-to-year and insurance unemployment remained low, rising just 0.2 percentage points.