The U.S. economy added 1,400 legal services jobs in September, reversing a two-month downward slide in the industry’s employment figures, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor on Friday.
The legal industry employed 1,138,100 people in the month of September, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its monthly look at the employment situation in the U.S. The BLS employment data is seasonally adjusted and provisional, meaning it could be revised.
The uptick in legal services employment—a category that includes lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries and other law-related professions—comes as the U.S. economy, as a whole, added 134,000 non-farm jobs and unemployment dropped to its lowest level in decades at 3.7 percent. September’s overall employment report marks eight consecutive years of monthly increases in U.S. jobs figures, although it reportedly fell short of the 168,000 jobs that Wall Street economists expected the country to add during the month.
For the legal sector, meanwhile, the job growth in September follows lackluster employment reports for August and July, for which BLS reported month-over-month declines. On Friday, however, BLS posted revised numbers for the past two months that amount to upward adjustments compared with what the agency originally reported. In July, some 1,137,800 people worked in legal services, while 1,136,700 worked in the sector in August, according to revised BLS data put out Friday.
Still, even with those upward revisions and September’s 1,400 job increase, legal services employment remains below what it was in June, when the sector employed 1,139,500 people, according to historical BLS data. Legal sector employment has typically fluctuated from month to month over the past few years. From December 2016 onward, the total has remained between 1.13 million and 1.14 million people employed in the industry.
Beyond the positive signs for the overall U.S. economy in terms of job growth and a lower unemployment rate, BLS reported Friday that wages continued on an upward trend. In September, the average hourly rate for people in private sector, non-farm jobs increased to $27.24—eight cents more than the prior month. Compared with the beginning of 2018, average hourly earnings have increased by 73 cents throughout the year, a 2.8 percent uptick.