MSP Metro Workforce Report May 24 – 30, 2020

This report is the final in a 6-part series highlighting the critical current needs of employers in the 7-County Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metro (MSP). We have documented the top Associate’s degree or less jobs, skills, and certifications advertised by employers,[1] as well as the top locations that employers are advertising openings aligned with five of the region’s most critical sectors.[2]

In our final week, we highlight local demand for Insurance Sales Agents, including the current unemployment rates in these occupations, wages, and demographics of employment in this career.  We continue to explore historical trends related to disparities within the labor market, including a wage gap analysis by race and ethnicity. For the past five weeks of the pandemic, the purpose of these reports has been assisting job seekers and those who support them, such as career coaches and trainers, as well as local decision-makers, including program directors, policy-makers and economic development leaders.   By working together and centering on impacting inequitable structures in our labor market, we can transform previous systems to create an economy that works better for all.

1 SOURCE: All data in this section is from new jobs posted online in the 7-county Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metro between May 31 – June 6, 2020. Data includes staffing agencies and represents deduplicated new job posts from all corporate websites and job boards. Trend comparison to a prior period refers to the week immediately prior. All data was gathered from TalentNeuron Recruit, on June 14, 2020.

2 All sectors are defined as job families that are related by skills, competencies, and career pathways, with the exception of Government jobs. The Government sector is identified by city, county, regional, and state government employers.

Occupations in Focus: Insurance Sales Agents

Across all industries in the MSP Metro, stable turnover[3] sat at about 10.9% as of 2018—and on average over the past 24 years.[4] In in the Finance and Insurance Industry, which employs the largest share of Insurance Sales Agents, the stable turnover rate was approximately half of this rate at 5.5% in 2018.

In the Finance and Insurance Industry, there is not enough data regionally on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) working in the industry to establish clear trends in stable turnover or separations disaggregated by race and ethnicity year-to-year. Separations, replacement rates, and net job change by race and ethnicity also have distorted or limited data and could not be analyzed. However, there is sufficient data on Finance and Insurance Industry wages by race and ethnicity to allow for a wage gap analysis, which have widened in this industry since 2001.[5] In this industry, non-Hispanic White yearly stable workers saw an 83% increase in average monthly stable earnings[6] from 2001-2018, from $5,716 to $10,464. Asian stable workers almost doubled average monthly stable earnings over the same timeframe (99%), but lagged $2,521 behind the average monthly income that non-Hispanic White employees earned ($7,943 by 2018). Black and African American stable workers had only a 75% increase in wages over the same time frame, earning the least of any group with observable data at just $5,494 average monthly stable wages—nearly half of the wages earned by the non-Hispanic White workforce in the Finance and Insurance Industry.[7]

[3] Stable turnover is defined as the rate at which stable jobs—positions held by the same employee throughout an entire year—begin and end. Stable turnover is calculated by summing the number of stable hires in the reference period and stable separations in the next period, then dividing by the average full-period employment.

[4] U.S. Census Bureau. Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI), 2018. Stable turnover is calculated by summing the number of stable hires in the reference quarter and stable separations in the next quarter, then dividing by the average full quarter employment. The 4 quarters are then averaged.

[5] U.S. Census Bureau, Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI). 7-County Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metropolitan Area. Race categories are for non-Hispanic individuals. Accessed at NAICS 44-45

[6] Stable earnings are the wages of employees that worked at the same firm throughout a reference period—in this case, a full year.

[7] This analysis does not normalize by education level, experience level, or occupation of employment. An analysis of occupational employment in this industry reveals that diversity is highest in entry-level positions, with most BA-level and higher positions being held by non-Hispanic White male workers.

Insurance Sales Agents sell life, property, casualty, health, automotive, or other types of insurance. This occupation also includes agents who may refer clients to independent brokers, work as an independent broker, or be employed directly by an insurance company. The MSP Metro has a higher share of Insurance Sales Agents than a typical metro area of its size (LQ 1.18), and offers one of the highest average annual salaries for an occupation typically requiring just a high school diploma: $77,000 per year. Over the past five years, Insurance Sales Agent employment grew in the MSP Metro by 0.8% annually to a total of 6,411 by the fourth quarter of 2019. Continued growth in this occupation is anticipated through the end of 2024 at about 1% per year.

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for Insurance Sales Agents was greater than the local supply of talent. Over the next five years, the MSP Metro is estimated to have a baseline shortage of at least 215 Insurance Sales Agents (about 43 per year)—the third largest occupation gap in finance and insurance occupations.

Compared to Insurance Sales Agents nationwide, the educational attainment of talent in the MSP Metro is high. Nationally, 46.5% of Insurance Sales Agents completed a four-year degree and 8.2% have completed a Masters degree. In the MSP Metro, well over half of Insurance Sales Agents have a four-degree, and another 9.1% have a Masters.  Although the typical entry-level education requirements for Insurance Sales Agents in the MSP Metro is a high school diploma or equivalent, only 8.2% of metro Insurance Sales Agents’ highest degree completed is a high school diploma or less. Nationally, 13.5% of talent in this occupation have completed a high school diploma or less.

The currently employed population in these occupations is older than most other roles in the metro, with 29% of the currently employed Insurance Sales Agents being 55 years of age and older, compared to 21% of all workers metro-wide. With an older workforce, the insurance industry is likely facing higher retirement number than other industries. The currently employed population working as Insurance Sales Agents are also less diverse than most other roles in the metro. By ethnicity, 3.3% of workers are Hispanic or Latino, compared to 5.6% of all workers in the metro. Among the working population in these occupations, 88.6% identify as white, 4.4% as Black or African American, and 5.2% as Asian. While, across all occupations in the Twin Cities seven-county metro, 81.9% of the currently employed population are white, 8% are Black or African American, and 7.2% are Asian. The workers identifying as females account for 47% of this occupation, and 53% identify as males.

Typically, new job postings for Insurance Sales Agents spike in February. The annual February spike increased by 56% from 2017 to 2018, by 10% from 2018 to 2019, and by another 24% from 2019 to 2020. Across positions advertised on any job board in the region, the volume of deduplicated available Insurance Sales Agents positions were up by 15% in the period from June 2019-May 2020 compared to the prior 12-month period, hitting 4,430 unique positions advertised. [8]

[8] Available jobs means the position was active on a website during the specified time frame, and may have been posted earlier than the time frame.

Other Insurance Sales Agents Market Insights

As of 2019Q4, total employment for Insurance Sales Agents (SOC 41‑3021) in the Twin Cities 7-County Metro was 6,411. Over the past three years, this occupation added 431 jobs in the region and is expected to increase by 477 jobs over the next seven years, or at an annual average rate of 1.0%. There were about 108 people unemployed with prior work experience in these occupations and potentially seeking reemployment as Insurance Sales Agents.

Looking at the broader occupation category of all Sales Representatives, Services (SOC 413), which is broader and more inclusive, about 31,695 were employed in the region as of the last quarter of 2019 and 760 people were unemployed (2.4% occupational unemployment). In a typical year, about 1,072 people can be expected to exit Sales Representatives, Services occupations. However, between March 16 and June 11, 2020, nearly 6,885 Sales Representatives, Services workers applied for unemployment insurance out of 452,922 total applications in the region (776,227 statewide).[9] Based on historic trends and this volume of unemployment applicants, current occupational unemployment of Sales Representatives, Services workers regionally can be estimated at approximately 19% as a conservative estimate.

[9] MN DEED, Unemployment Insurance Statistics for the SOC 413 between 3/16/20-6/11/20. Accessed on 6/15/2020 at

The majority of employed Insurance Sales Agents in the MSP Metro work in downtown Minneapolis and the immediate first and second ring suburbs, especially in the zip codes of suburban Hennepin County. There is also a concentration of Insurance Sales Agents that work in and around downtown St. Paul. However, despite workplaces being concentrated near the urban centers of the metro, more workers in this occupation live in the suburban outer ring of the seven-county metro area, especially in the zip codes of suburban Dakota and Washington Counties.

The following table illustrates the industries in the Twin Cities 7-County Metro which most employ Insurance Sales Agents. The single industry most employing this occupation in the region is Employment Services, NAICS 5242. This industry employs 4,184 Insurance Sales Agents—employment which is expected to increase by 543 jobs over the next ten years; furthermore, 4,206 additional new workers in this occupation will be needed for this industry due to separation demand, that is, to replace workers in this occupation and industry that retire or move into a different occupation.

The average (mean) annual wage for Insurance Sales Agents was $77,000 in the Twin Cities 7-County Metro as of 2018. For the same year, average entry level wages were approximately $40,300 compared to an average of $95,300 for experienced workers.

Report released on 6/16/2020 by RealTime Talent on the INSIGHTS blog at  All data in the first section of this report is from TalentNeuron Recruit, accessed 6/14/2020 at Data from the Occupations in Focus section of this report is from TalentNeuron (job postings) and Jobs EQ, a tool of Chmura Economics, accessed 6/12/2020-6/14/2020 unless otherwise noted. Contact Erin Olson, Research Strategist at with any questions or inquiries.