August 13, 2014
That report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was met with cheers (and justifiably so), but those hurrahs lowered in volume a bit when it was announced that estimate was 300 jobs too generous. In actuality, the sector gained 900 jobs in June.
On top of that came more bad news. In July, the legal sector actually shed jobs. Two hundred of them, to be precise.
That means since the start of the year, we have lost 800 legal-sector jobs. However, compare this time period to the same timeframe last year and we are 3,900 jobs better-off than we were.
Now, let’s provide some context:
- July’s legal sector numbers are in step with the larger economy. Across all non-farm sectors, the U.S. has been adding jobs almost every month, but July saw a significant slowdown all across the board.
- Overall unemployment inched up in July, from 6.1 percent in June to 6.2 percent. (This time last year, it was 7.3 percent, so we are making progress.)
So, if we take a step back, losing 200 jobs in July is not a good thing, of course, but it is not cause for alarm (yet, anyway.) Even if we are in the red so far this year in terms of job growth, we are still better off where we are than a year ago.
This appears to be one of those situations where optimists (“Improvement over a year ago!”) might see something different than pessimists (“Yes, but we’re 800 jobs in the hole, and we are slowing down.”)
Of course, which of those two outlooks turns out to be correct will depend on how the industry proceeds over a much longer period of time. The legal sector is picking up as the general economy gathers steam, but it is still facing technology and shrinking demand that may whittle away jobs.