By Aebra Coe, Law360
Legal services jobs remained relatively flat for the third month in a row in September, adding a mere 400 jobs since August and eking out a meager 0.25 percent increase over employment levels last year, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Preliminary tallies of seasonally adjusted jobs in the legal sector totaled 1,125,600 in September, up slightly from 1,125,200 the month before and exactly the same as the number of jobs reported in the sector in July, the BLA reported.
Despite the lack of growth, September’s numbers represent the high-water mark for the year, which began with 1,122,800 jobs in January and dropped 1,500 to hover around 1,121,600 in February. Legal industry employment has ebbed and flowed slightly since the beginning of the year.
The number of legal sector jobs in September outpaced the month’s 2015 figure of 1,122,800 by about a quarter of a percent as the industry added 2,800 jobs since last year.
The sluggish job growth in the legal industry reflects trends in the wider economy where unemployment rates climbed slightly to 5 percent in September, up from 4.9 percent the previous three months.
Despite the sluggish industrywide growth, Michelle Fivel, a partner at Major Lindsey & Africa, says the lateral market is booming for the “upper echelon” of law firms, illustrating a division between the largest and most prestigious firms and the rest of the industry.
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