When Julie Gray recently moved to the Dallas area, she juggled multiple job offers from oil and gas companies looking for accountants.
Jordan Huckabee landed a job at State Farm Insurance in Richardson even though he had no insurance experience.
Huckabee and Gray reflect the surge in financial services jobs in Dallas-Fort Worth and across Texas. Financial services employment is at an all-time high statewide and near a record high for North Texas.
â??I had a rÃsumÃ posted in Oklahoma City for six months on job websites and got one call,â? Gray said. â??I changed my address to Dallas and had six calls for jobs the same day.â?
Whereas mortgage refinancing and foreclosure-related workers were in top demand a couple of years ago, itâ??s now insurance and finance jobs as businesses grow and seek ways to boost their revenue or cut costs. The housing and energy booms are driving some of the growth, but big insurance companies that have moved to or expanded here â?? such as State Farm and Towers Watson â?? also play a large role.
Financial services employment has spiked since early 2010 as overall employment regionally and statewide surpassed pre-recession peaks. Since 2010, financial employment, not seasonally adjusted, jumped 12.4 percent in Texas and was up 11 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
â??Itâ??s a hot market,â? said Craig Hardy, owner of Dallas staffing startup Entourage Professionals. â??Itâ??s a sign of the economy moving forward.â?
Hiring has become competitive as the Texas unemployment rate has fallen from 5.7 percent to 5.1 percent this year. Some job candidates are seeing multiple job offers and six-figure salaries.
â??Weâ??ve been saying for a long time that Dallas is a center for the financial services and insurance industry,â? said Pia Orrenius, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. â??These are good-paying, white-collar jobs. These are the kind of jobs people want.â?
State Farm moves in
Insurance giant State Farm has been one of the biggest drivers of financial services hiring as it expands in North Texas. The Illinois-based insurer hired about 2,100 people here last year, officials said.
State Farmâ??s business has grown as the economy has improved. â??More people are buying cars, and therefore insurance, and perhaps switching insurers,â? said David Beigie, vice president of public affairs.
In January, it plans to start moving employees â?? a mix of new hires and transfers from other US offices â?? to a new regional campus in Richardson. It plans to increase its 5,000 employees in D-FW to about 8,000 in the coming years, or 12 percent of its US workforce.
â??Weâ??ve employed a very large number of people in a very short period of time,â? said Michael Trout, vice president of operations-human resources for State Farm. â??Weâ??ve been extraordinarily happyâ? with the labor pool.
D-FW insurance carrier employment, not seasonally adjusted, has jumped 15 percent since 2010, according to BLS data. US growth was flat.
Investment firm Edward Jones also has been on a hiring spree, adding 112 financial advisers in D-FW this year, with plans to add 34 more to reach 506 by year-end, said Anson Sobers, regional leader for Dallas. Itâ??s part of a national push by the St. Louis-based company to grow from 12,000 advisers to 20,000 â?? including 850 in D-FW â?? by 2020 by focusing more on urban areas.
Baby boomers and others are â??concerned about their future,â? Sobers said. â??Thereâ??s tremendous need in terms of college planning and trying to understand what kind of income theyâ??ll need in retirement.â?
Hiring boosts the economy by helping companies grow, putting the unemployed back to work and letting people who have been in stagnant jobs move. And it typically leads to increased spending by companies and consumers.
Regina Ferree started working as a part-time, entry-level customer service representative at State Farm in March, five months after she was laid off from a similar full-time job at Copart Inc., an auto salvage business. She earns $12.41 an hour with full benefits, including a vision plan and vacation.
When Ferree was out of work, she cut back on eating out and put a stop to manicures, but having a paycheck again has changed that. â??Two hours after I got the job offer, dang it, I got my nails done,â? she said.
Huckabee left his auto body job a year ago to join State Farm as an express auto claims adjuster because he saw more opportunity. He had been in his previous job for 2 1/2 years with no raise or promotion.
Initially, Huckabee earned less at State Farm, but he was promoted and received two pay raises and makes more now.
The growth isnâ??t just at financial services firms. The improving economy has increased demand for financial jobs in other industries, such as construction and energy. Some companies are beefing up their financial staffs in response to changes in government regulations or their customer base.
â??Regulatory compliance is a very hot area,â? said Jeff LeVant, Dallas-based managing director for the Experis staffing firm.
Recruiter Hardy sees more companies creating financial analyst jobs as a strategic move to help them grow faster and smarter. Such jobs pay from $70,000 to more than $100,000 a year, he said.
Rigs and revenue
Last year, Texas oil and gas extraction companies hired twice as many financial specialists as in 2012, and oil and gas support companies hired 52 percent more compliance officers, according to BLS occupational data.
Texland Petroleum has hired five financial employees in the last year to add to its Fort Worth staff of 35, said vice president of tax and accounting Sandy Dixon.
As the company grows, it needs financial people to â??account for all of the revenue and disbursements that take place and manage the tax aspects of all of the investments,â? she said.
Recent transplant Gray had three job offers from oil and gas companies. Last month, she began working as a revenue accountant for Approach Resources Inc. in Fort Worth.
â??This job offered the most room for growth given the shortage of experience with specific software programs in oil and gas,â? said Gray, who had worked for Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City. Her base annual salary of $60,000 could rise up to $90,000 after bonuses.
â??Iâ??m still getting phone calls from headhunters trying to lure me away,â? she said.