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Connecticut's Share of Insurance Industry Continues to Decline

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A new analysis shows employment in the insurance industry is steadily recovering nationally. Connecticut’s share of the industry, however, has continued to decline.

Jobs in the life insurance sector have been on a steep downward trend in Connecticut since 2009.

Insurance and financial services have long been key employers in Connecticut, and Hartford of course styles itself as the nation’s insurance capital. The state is estimated to have about 115,000 employees in insurance and financial services. Other centers are threatening its dominance with a stronger recovery from the recession.

The Insurance Information Institute released its latest analysis of employment trends in the industry, showing that in the last year, total employment in the sector across the nation was up by two percent. That was led by a strong performance in health insurance, which has been on an upward trend nationally for almost ten years.

In Connecticut, though, health insurance employment declined until the last year, when we saw just a modest recovery.

Patrick Flaherty, an economist at the state Department of Labor, said, "We are seeing some hopeful signs that some of the worst of the recession is over, and that we’ve seen a turnaround in some of the sectors, but that’s just regaining ground that was lost during the recession."

Much more important historically than health insurance has been life insurance in Connecticut. Jobs in that sector have been on a steep downward trend since 2009.

"My understanding," Flaherty said, "is that folks who have a real strong actuarial background are still able to find many opportunities within the insurance industry in Connecticut, and particularly in the Hartford area. It’s just that the overall headcount is down, because the insurance companies have been under a lot of pressure to reduce costs, and have found ways to go forward with, unfortunately for us, a smaller employment base."

As the market changes and the industry consolidates, life insurance employment nationally has also contracted, but it hasn’t seen the really steep declines that Connecticut has faced.

Flaherty said that’s true of the industry, generally, in this state. "At this point," he said, "the data did not support an idea that we’ve actually been increasing employment in that sector over the longer term."

Connecticut may still have the greatest concentration of insurance jobs of any state in the nation. The financial crisis seems to have accelerated trends that challenge that pre-eminence.

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.

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