Legal sector jobs ticked up ever so slightly in September, regaining lost ground from the prior month but still lagging behind a five-year high water mark set in 2013, according to data from the U.S. Depart of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Friday’s jobs report showed 1,125,600 people employed by the legal industry last month. That’s 400 more than the agency reported in August, and it matches revised numbers for July. (The August and September numbers are still preliminary; all figures are seasonally adjusted.)
The number of legal sector jobs has hovered below 1.13 million since June 2013, while the picture over the last two years has been one of slow and uneven growth. Looking back over the last decade, legal employment reached its nadir in 2007, before a sharp decline sparked by the financial crisis and its aftermath. The industry would need to add about 55,000 jobs to reach pre-crisis levels—a tall order given slack demand for legal services.
Employers added 156,000 jobs last month across all industries, according to Friday’s jobs report, while average hourly earnings edged higher. The increase was smaller than many economists had predicted, but the data suggests a relatively stable labor market.
The modest uptick in legal employment last month tracked with the rest of the professional and technical services sector, which includes jobs in fields such as accounting. The biggest job gains in the sector were in management consulting, suggesting that many companies—like many law firms—are still looking for a leg up.