Jobs Outlook: Bill and Account Collectors

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Employment of bill and account collectors is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012. Cash flow is becoming increasingly important to companies, which are now placing greater emphasis on collecting bad debts sooner. Thus, the workload for collectors is up as they seek to collect, not only debts that are relatively old, but ones that are more recent. Also, as more companies in a wide range of industries get involved in lending money and issuing their own credit cards, they will need to hire collectors, because debt levels will inevitably rise. Hospitals and physicians’ offices are two of the fastest-growing areas requiring collectors. With insurance reimbursements not keeping up with cost increases, the health-care industry is seeking to recover more money from patients. Government agencies also are making more use of collectors to collect on everything from parking tickets to child-support payments and past-due taxes. Finally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is looking into outsourcing the collection of overdue Federal taxes to third-party collection agencies. If the IRS does outsource, more collectors will be required for this large job.

Despite the increasing demand for bill collectors, an increasing number of mergers between collection agencies may result in fewer collectors being hired. Small, less automated agencies are being bought by larger, more computerized firms, resulting in greater productivity. Contrary to the pattern in most occupations, employment of bill and account collectors tends to rise during recessions, reflecting the difficulty that many people have in meeting their financial obligations. However, collectors usually have more success at getting people to repay their debts when the economy is good.

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