With news breaking today that the national unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent in December 2011—its lowest level since February 2009—and the economy added 200,000 jobs, one might think the legal job market also reaped the benefits of Americans getting back to work. Alas, this was not the case.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly jobs report today, indicating that the legal sector lost 1,800 jobs in December. What makes this loss even more disconcerting is that among jobs in the professional and technical services category, legal services is the only group that saw a decline.
December’s job loss reverses the modest gains the legal services market made in October and November 2011. According to the BLS’ seasonally adjusted numbers, the legal sector added 100 jobs in November and 400 jobs in October.
With December’s loss, that also sets the legal services sector back 2,700 jobs from December 2010.