July 06--The second largest employer in Butler County has decreased its local workforce five percent over the past two years.
During the same time period, Cincinnati Financial Corp.'s field staff of marketing representatives, claims adjusters and loss control workers throughout the United States has increased four percent during the same time period, officials with the property casualty insurance company told the JournalNews/Middletown Journal.
Brian Wood, director of human resources and community relations of Cincinnati Financial, said some jobs have become outdated in the insurance business because of automated processes. Data entry and file clerks, for example, are being replaced by highly skilled and higher paying jobs such as programmers, data modelers and actuaries.
Because the more advanced jobs pay more, payroll has increased even though employment has decreased, Wood said.
The overall effect is a one percent decline in total employment at the $3.8 billion company based in Fairfield to more than 4,000 employees across the U.S.
Locally, its resulted in the loss of more than 100 jobs, lowering the company's workforce here to 2,800 jobs at the end of 2011.
"As we expand our national footprint, that requires more resources in the field," Wood said. "All our staffing decisions are driven by what are our internal capabilities, coupled with what is going on in the business that's going to drive what tomorrow's resources are going to be both in terms of numbers and in terms of skill set."
Miami University is the top employer in the county with more than 3,000 employees. AK Steel has 2,400 employees.
Technology plays an important role in the insurance industry, said Mitch Wilson, spokesman for Ohio Insurance Institute, a trade association. It's used to estimate the cost of claims or consider a new policy application.
"There is a lot of technology that goes into even the pricing of insurance. The pricing and analysis, the actuaries, use a lot of technologies when they evaluate risk," he said.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., based in Columbus, said its greatest employee needs are in technology, sales, claims and customer service.
"The use of technology means we are using less paper and storing our records electronically. We no longer utilize warehouses to store information collected on paper, which has greatly decreased the need for traditional file clerks," said Nationwide spokeswoman Nancy Smeltzer in an email. "Information that was once entered by data entry clerks is scanned."
Independent insurance agents such as Newsad Insurance Services of Middletown sell products underwritten by insurers. Newsad writes life insurance for seven or eight different financial service and life insurance companies, including Cincinnati Financial.
"The insurance industry has definitely went from paper to electronics," said Owner Tom Newsad. "The online application increases production for me. It take a couple of steps out of the process."
No longer does he have to fax an application to the insurer and wait days for a response, he said.
Cincinnati Financial currently has 20 open positions for programmers and web developers it has trouble filling because it can't find qualified workers, Wood said.
Opportunities continue to exist for insurance underwriters, a core part of the company's business.
Meanwhile, employment at the company of data entry clerks has dropped 50 percent since 2009, he said.
A large number of staff has been retrained for new jobs with the company, he said. Reductions have been made through retirements and attrition. In 2009, Wood said a group of 22 data entry workers that were not able to learn new skills were let go with severance pay. They had receive a year's notice.
"Our challenge is going to be to take existing staff and retrain them to take advantage of new opportunities," he said. "We just need to see more of those highly skilled folks moving into the marketplace."
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