Employment in the U.S. legal sector took another hit in March, with the industry losing 1,500 jobs, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The agency’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 1,121,800 people employed in March in the legal services sector, though the figures in the monthly jobs report could be revised.
The March results mark a contraction from the 1,123,300 people employed in the legal services industry in February, BLS reported. They also constitute the third straight month in which the legal sector lost jobs—after more than 1.126 million jobs were reported in December, the industry’s employment figures have declined each month so far in 2017.
The monthly number of jobs in the legal sector has fluctuated somewhat over the past several years. But the industry has generally hovered between roughly 1.12 million jobs and 1.13 million jobs since June 2013—more than 50,000 jobs fewer than the sector’s pre-recession high in 2007.
The March jobs report comes amid reports of layoffs at at least two large law firms. Global giant Dentons slashed 60 U.S. jobs in its business services team, according to a report in mid-March by The American Lawyer’s affiliate Legal Week. Andrews Kurth Kenyon has also done away with at least 18 staff jobs following Andrews Kurth’s mass hire last year from former IP firm Kenyon & Kenyon, according to Above the Law.
Overall, the U.S. economy added 98,000 jobs in March, according the preliminary BLS data. That figure was shy of the 180,000 jobs many economists expected the economy to gain last month. The nationwide unemployment rate in March fell to 4.5 percent, down from 4.7 percent in February.
The Labor Department also reported that hourly earnings for nonfarm employees increased by 5 cents in March.
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Scott Flaherty covers the business of law with a special focus on plaintiffs lawyers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.