The U.S. legal services industry added 600 jobs in the final month of 2017 as the country’s overall economy posted employment gains, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday.
The agency’s Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its monthly look at the employment situation in the United States, showing that 1,128,200 people were employed in legal services during December. The data released on Friday is provisional and could be revised in the future. The BLS includes lawyers, paralegals, secretaries and other law-related professions in the legal services employment report.
The jobs numbers for December mark an increase over BLS’s revised figure for November, when the legal sector employed 1,127,600 people, according to Friday’s provisional data. Initially, BLS had reported a higher number for November’s employment results.
The legal services industry’s job figures in December remain within a range that has, for the most part, prevailed in the sector for several years. Since June 2013, the number of people employed in legal services has generally hovered somewhere between about 1.12 million and 1.13 million, roughly 50,000 jobs fewer than the industry’s high point in 2007, before the recession and global financial crisis.
Looking back over 2017 as a whole, there have been slight fluctuations in the legal industry’s jobs figures. March, in which 1,123,300 people were employed in the legal sector, marked a low point, while June marked a high, with the industry employing 1,130,700 in that month, according to historical BLS data.
Those statistics came as some law firms underwent staff shake-ups in 2017. Notably, Sedgwick decided to close its doors at the end of the year, sending lawyers off to new locales and shutting down a back office operations center in Kansas City, Missouri—a move that eliminated 75 jobs.
Friday’s data release from BLS also reports on the employment situation in the United States overall. The economy added 148,000 jobs in December, according to the data, a number that reportedly fell short of economists’ expectations but which still more than keeps pace with population growth among working-age Americans. The country’s unemployment rate remained flat at 4.1 percent, which is down from 4.8 percent at the beginning of 2017. For the U.S. economy overall, December marked the 87th consecutive month of job growth.