jobs

 

The U.S. legal industry gained 1,100 jobs in April amid a positive employment for the country’s economy overall, according to preliminary federal government data released Friday.

In its monthly employment report, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 1,124,100 people were working in the legal services sector in April, up from 1,123,000 in March. The preliminary figures are seasonally adjusted, and they could be revised.

The jobs report for April marks an upswing after three consecutive months in which the number of people employed in legal services declined. April’s figures come after March figures showed that employment in the legal services sector contracted in March. The Labor Department initially reported a loss of 1,500 legal services jobs for March, but the revised data released on Friday show that only 700 jobs were lost that month.

Although the number of jobs in the legal services sector—which includes lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries, among other occupations—has fluctuated over the past several years, the number has generally hovered between 1.12 million and 1.13 million since June 2013, according to Labor Department data. That’s at least 50,000 fewer jobs than the industry’s pre-recession high of 1.18 million jobs in May 2007.

April’s legal services employment figures follow reports of recent staff cuts at global legal giant Dentons. That firm laid off some 60 employees in its U.S. business services team, and The American Lawyer reported in mid-April that Dentons had also asked several U.S. partners to leave following a budget shortfall in 2016.

The U.S. economy overall added 211,000 jobs in April, while the national unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.4 percent, according to Friday’s preliminary data. The results in April show a rebound after worse-than-expected job growth in March. April’s figures reportedly exceeded what economists had anticipated for the month.

The Labor Department also reported a 7 cent uptick in wages for non-farm employees, bringing the average hourly rate to $26.19. The agency reported that average hourly wages have increased by 65 cents over the course of 2017.

Scott Flaherty covers the business of law with a special focus on plaintiffs lawyers. He can be reached at sflaherty@alm.com. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.