The legal industry lost more jobs last month than it has in any single month since June 2011, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Initial BLS reports show the legal sector shedding 3,600 positions in June, the largest one-month drop since a 3,300-job dip recorded during the same period two years ago. Last month was also the second in a row during which the industry lost more jobs than it gained. The BLS originally estimated that the legal sector lost 500 jobs in May—a figure the bureau revised Friday to reflect a loss of 2,900 positions that month instead.
At its halfway point, 2013 has proven to be a topsy-turvy year on the legal employment front, with the industry enjoying gains, respectively, of 3,100 and 800 positions in March and April. And while the legal sector has shed 5,100 jobs since December 2012, employment still outpaces last year's totals at this point by 1,000 positions. Overall, the legal sector currently employs 1.12 million people.
(As The Am Law Daily has reported, Weil, Gotshal & Manges is one Am Law 100 firm that significantly trimmed its employment roster recently, announcing last month that it was laying off 60 associates and 110 nonlawyer staffers. It is unclear where those job cuts are included in the preliminary BLS data for June.)
The legal sector's employment woes came against the backdrop of the overall U.S. economy continuing to make steady upward progress. The country added a total of 195,000 jobs in June, according to the same BLS preliminary report. The New York Times reported Friday that though the nation's unemployment rate remains unchanged at 7.6 percent, the job gains will likely allow the federal government to proceed with plans to begin easing off economic stimulus measures that have been in place since the recession.