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'Legal Sector Sees Another 1,500 Jobs Lost In February': Danielle Goldstone in Law360

Posted by: Laurence Simons 21/03/16

By Kali Hays

Law360, New York (March 4, 2016, 11:53 AM ET) -- Employment in the legal services sector is off to a rough start this year, losing another 1,500 jobs in February, according to a Friday report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding to a nearly equal loss the previous month.

The number of seasonally adjusted jobs in the sector totalled 1,121,600 in February, dropping from 1,122,800 in January. However, jobs in the legal services sector are still up from a year ago, when February 2015 had 1,118,300 legal services jobs, a month that added more than 3,000 jobs over January 2015.

Danielle Goldstone, a senior consultant for international legal recruitment firm Laurence Simons, said Friday that the recent cuts reflect a general turbulence in the financial market as a whole, but it doesn't mean hiring for those attorneys with sought after experience has dropped off.

“Companies are still operating with lean legal teams, but they are still hiring senior level positions within the companies,” Goldstone said. “They could be cutting back administratively and putting more of the actual work on the attorneys. A lot of responsibility falls onto the higher paid attorneys within an organization.”

Overall, the national unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged over the past several months, idling at 4.9 percent in February. The month added 242,000 jobs in nonfarm fields, like health care, construction, retail, food service and private education, while the mining industry continued to see jobs fall away, according to the report.

On a national scale, 7.8 million people remain out of work as of February, a number unchanged from the previous month. For the past year overall, the number of unemployed people is down by 831,000 making the unemployment rate drop by 0.8 percentage points, according to the report.

Those 2.2 million people who have been unable to secure work for nearly seven months or more made up nearly 30 percent of the total unemployed.

The number of people who are involuntarily underemployed also held steady in February, totalling 6 million workers who have been forced into part-time work due to hours being cut or full-time jobs being unavailable. That number has dropped by 796,000 over the past year, but has seen little change over the last several months, according to the report.

Teenagers also remained the group of potential workers with the highest rate of unemployment at 15.6 percent, down slightly from 16 percent in January. African-American men and women followed with an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent  and Hispanic men and women at 5.4 percent, according to the report, all showing little change from January, according to Friday’s report.

As for the legal sector, February’s numbers may lead to a 2016 that’s similarly turbulent to 2015, a year that saw jobs rise and fall month to month.

December’s seasonally adjusted numbers show a small jump of 400 jobs — compared to the initially reported 1,200 — while November reportedly increased by 200 jobs.

October also increased by about 700 jobs, while September brought a sizeable increase of 3,800 jobs.

However, this came on the heels of 2,000 jobs axed in August, a paltry increase of 200 jobs in July and an earlier decline of 800 jobs in June.

The first half of the year was similarly turbulent for the sector, seeing a small gain of 300 jobs in May and an April swell of 2,300 jobs, which followed March's loss of 1,200, February's increase of 3,100 and January's loss of 1,400.