Insurance industry job prospects are looking good for the first quarter of this year, according to new research from recruitment company Manpower.

One in four insurance companies (24%) plan to hire more staff, while only 12% say they expect to see a decrease in employee numbers.

The survey's findings are little different from the corresponding survey a year ago, in which 23% believed an increase likely, while 12% expected a decrease.

Manpower said: "Insurance usually shows up well in quarter one figures, but this year the sector has built on a series of positive results throughout 1999.

"Having pulled clear of the national average, the sector looks well set."

The report adds weight to recent findings from a Pricewaterhouse-

Coopers' financial services report which also showed the insurance industry is currently enjoying a period of prosperity.