One month after experiencing a slight dip in employment, the legal sector managed to add 1,400 jobs in July, giving the industry its highest overall employment numbers in three years, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Last month, The Am Law Daily reported that June represented the second straight month of modest job growth in the legal sector, based on the BLS’s preliminary report for that month. But the BLS has since revised its numbers to show a 200-job loss in June, as opposed to the 200-job increase originally reported. Meanwhile, employment in the industry grew by only 300 jobs in May, based on revised BLS data for that month.
With June’s uptick, the legal sector now employs more than 1.12 million people, the highest the overall total has reached since July 2009. BLS data also shows the sector with 4,500 more positions in July than it had at the same time last year. But the current total is still a far cry from prerecession numbers leading up to early 2008, when the industry regularly had tens of thousands more jobs on the books than it currently boasts.
The fact that legal services employment numbers are trending upward hasn’t precluded some firms from still implementing layoffs. As The Am Law Daily noted last week, Dorsey & Whitney recently let go 20 support staffers, including 12 employees from the firm’s Minneapolis headquarters (the rest were spread across five unidentified offices). And, legal blog Above the Law cited several sources Thursday saying that Fish & Richardson was also laying off a significant number of staff. The firm later confirmed in a statement that it will let 14 staff members go, according to Thomson Reuters.
Overall, the U.S. economy managed to outpace predictions in July by adding 163,000 new jobs. But that increase wasn’t enough to keep the unemployment rate from ticking up to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent after BLS’s June data was revised to show only 64,000 jobs added that month as opposed to the 80,000 originally reported.