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For those considering employment in the insurance industry, the good news is that a trend of more insurance company executives saying they plan to add staff has continued, a recent study shows.

If there's a downside in the study conducted by search and recruiting firm Management Recruiters International Inc., it's that the percentage of insurance industry executives that indicated their companies would be increasing staff size lagged slightly behind the average for all companies polled.

Still, more than half the insurance industry executives -- 53.4% -- polled in MRI's survey for the second half of 1998 indicated they plan to increase hiring, a 2.2% increase from the percentage that reported plans to add staff in the survey conducted earlier this year.

Meanwhile, 40.3% indicated their companies would maintain current staffing levels, a 0.5% increase from the first half of the year, while the percentage of the insurance companies surveyed expecting to cut staff dropped to 6.4%, down from 8.0% in the first half of the year.

The survey polled 5,935 executives across the country, with 56.5% of the total group indicating they plan to increase hiring in the second half of 1998. Of the total, 37% reported they plan to maintain current staff levels, and 6.5% predicted staff reductions.

The survey was the 41st in an ongoing series of such polls conducted by Cleveland-based MRI. Since the beginning of 1996 the number of insurer executives saying they would add staff has shown steady growth, increasing by nearly 20 percentage points.

Insurance industry executives predicting they would reduce staffing also has dropped significantly over that period, from 13.0% in the first half of 1996 to the current level of 6.4%.

A summary of the findings of the survey by Management Recruiters International Inc. is available free by writing to MRI, 200 Public Square, 31st Floor, Cleveland, Ohio, 44114, Att: Karen Bloomfield; by telephoning Ms. Bloomfield at 800-875-4000; or by e-mail at