After seeing a healthy uptick in hiring in July, the legal sector shed 1,400 jobs last month, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The August job loss figure equals the bureau’s original estimate of how many positions the legal industry added in July. Friday’s report revised the July figure to show the industry adding 1,500 new jobs that month, meaning the August losses didn’t totally erase July’s gains—at least until the bureau revises its August data next month.
Meanwhile, Friday’s report showed the total number of people employed in the legal sector slipping from a three-year-high of 1.12 million in July to 1.118 million in August. Prior to the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the industry consistently employed about 1.17 million people.
Factoring in the August dip, the legal industry employs 3,200 more people than it did a year ago and has experienced a net gain of 1,400 jobs since the start of 2012. The sector has whipsawed between adding and losing jobs nearly every month this year, with April and May—which, respectively, saw job gains of 3,200 and 300—comprising the only two-month period of uninterrupted growth. Legal employers had cut 500 jobs in June and added 300 positions in May.
The overall U.S. economy added a less-than-expected 96,000 positions in August, according to Friday’s BLS report. Despite the lackluster hiring, the nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent, a decrease attributable to the fact that some 368,000 people stopped looking for work.