The U.S. legal sector lost 1,500 jobs in August—the second consecutive month of contraction, as the country’s overall economy continued a nearly 8-year streak of monthly job growth, according to Labor Department data released Friday.
In its monthly look at the U.S. employment situation across a host of sectors, the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in August, an estimated 1,135,300 people worked in legal services—a category that includes lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries and other law-related professions. The BLS data is seasonally adjusted, but also provisional and subject to revision.
The August report marks a decline from July, when 1,136,800 people worked in the legal industry, according to Friday’s jobs report. That July figure has been revised downward since an initial BLS report last month showed a higher number of people working in legal services.
With the July and August figures, the legal industry has seen two straight months of job declines. In June, according to now-finalized BLS data, the legal services sector employed 1,139,500 people—4,200 more jobs than Friday’s provisional report for August.
Legal employment is also slightly down year-over-year in light of August’s results. Compared with August 2017, the provisional data released on Friday shows that 200 fewer people were employed in the legal services industry in August 2018.
Even with the decline, August’s figures remain within a range that has prevailed over the past few years. Since December 2016, the legal industry has generally employed between 1.13 million and 1.14 million people, according to historical BLS data.
The legal industry’s employment situation in August runs counter to what happened with the U.S. economy overall in the same month, according to BLS. The agency reported on Friday that the country gained 201,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.9 percent.
BLS specifically highlighted job gains in professional and business services—a broad category that includes legal services. Professional and business services gained 53,000 jobs in August and have added 519,000 jobs so far this year. The agency also pointed to the health care sector as a source of job growth; that industry has added 301,000 jobs in 2018, with 33,000 of them coming in August, according to BLS.
Overall, the gains in August marked the 95th consecutive month of job growth in the U.S. and surpassed the 190,000 additional jobs that economists reportedly expected.
Average wages for private, non-farm jobs in the United States increased by 10 cents to $27.16 per hour. Over the course of 2018 so far, that average hourly earnings figure has gone up by 77 cents, BLS reported.