SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that 234,000 jobs were added to the economy in January, unemployment dropped to 8.3 percent, the lowest level of unemployment since February 2009. According to the US DOL report, legal services posted a negligible 1,000 gain after losing 1,800 jobs in December 2011. The only professional service category that did worse than legal services last month is “business support services,” which lost 100 jobs.
One thousand new legal jobs per month is not nearly enough to make up for 41,900 legal positions lost in 2009 alone, to accommodate 45,000/year graduating law students, let alone clear the backlog of law school graduates created by the Great Recession.
It is normal for service industries to lag behind others in adding jobs and it is not unusual for economic fundamentals to improve during the presidential election years, followed by declines in off years. At this slow pace, however, legal services might not have enough time to post any meaningful changes before the elections.