If a rising tide lifts all ships, the legal industry took on water last month. The U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, far surpassing projected gains. But the legal industry failed to keep pace, declining 0.7% between March and April.
Total jobs in the industry, which includes lawyers, paralegals and other professional legal jobs, stood at 1,142,400, down from the 1,143,100 reported in March of this year. The decline is not numerically significant, but did show that other sectors are outpacing legal in the continued economic recovery from the Great Recession.
Year over year, the industry is up about 0.2% from the same period in 2018. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers are provisional and seasonally adjusted.
The legal sector hasn’t seen dramatic change in job totals since December 2016, according to BLS statistics, rarely moving much above or below the 1.14 million mark. This number is roughly 30,000 to 40,000 lower than the pre-recession totals of 2007.
As for the overall economy, the unemployment rate dropped 0.02% to 3.6%, the lowest such rate since December 1969, according to BLS. The total number of unemployed stood at 5.8 million, down 387,000 from the previous month.
BLS only counts those who are actively seeking work in the last four weeks (known as the U3 rate) as part of its calculations. When factoring in those who are discouraged, marginally attached or underemployed (known as the “real” unemployment rate, or U6), the unemployment rate jumps to 7.3%, or roughly double the U3 calculation.
Economists fearing the effects of the U.S. trade war with China, Brexit and an overall slowdown in economic growth in Europe seemed to rest a bit easier after Friday’s robust report, but many are still cautious in their overall expectations after a rocky fiscal first quarter.