The U.S. legal service sector lost 1,100 jobs in May, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics released Friday.
The decline marked three consecutive months of losses for the industry and made up part of the 49,000 jobs lost in the overall market last month. The national unemployment rate increased to 5.5 percent, the highest increase in two decades, according to The New York Times.
Legal jobs were down 1.4 percent, the same decline the industry posted in April. That month, the sector lost 1,900 jobs.
Layoffs at large firms, along with tightening throughout the market generally, contributed to the lost jobs last month. Among the largest firms to shrink their payrolls was Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, which cut 124 lawyer and administrative positions. Hiring remains slow, making it harder for lawyers and nonlawyers to find new jobs in the sector.
In total, 1.17 million people, or less than 1 percent of the overall U.S. job market, call themselves legal service employees. They include: lawyers, paralegals, librarians and secretaries. Overall, the legal services sector has lost 9,700 jobs since a year ago and 4,200 in the last six months, according to the Labor Department. The statistics are seasonally adjusted. When not adjusted, the department reports 7,500 jobs cut during the last 12 months.
The last time so few people were employed in legal services was during a lull ending in December 2005.