As the unemployment rate (hopefully) continues to make a slow recovery towards a less-troubling figure this year, it may have the insurance industry to thank. More than half of all insurance companies plan to add staff in 2012, according to a recent industry labor market study conducted jointly by The Jacobson Group and The Ward Group. Despite the brutal 2011 catastrophe year that decimated profits for many companies, industry optimism is fueled by two factors: a belief that revenues will increase this year, and a need to update systems and better protect current tech infrastructure. The result is the highest number of companies reporting an expectation to increase staff since before Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, Unfortunately, recruiting remains a challenge with companies still rating actuarial, executive and technology positions as the three hardest to fill. So it remains to be seen if the end-year results will match the projections. But If the Industry follows through, the report projects a 1.39% increase in industry employment over the next 12 months compared to a rise of 1,7% in 2011. As for a breakdown by type of insurers, the life and health side of the industry is particularly ambitious, with 67% planning to hire compared to 50% of property/casualty insurers.