As the U.S. continued a lengthy streak of robust job growth in January, the legal services sector has again failed to keep pace with employment gains in the broader economy, according to federal government data released Friday.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its monthly look at the nation’s employment situation, reporting that the legal services industry neither gained nor lost jobs in January. BLS found that during the month, 1,140,100 people worked in legal services, a category that counts lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries and other law-related professions.
With the flat jobs report in January, the legal industry has continued to trail behind an upward trend in the U.S. economy. As a whole, the nation’s employment situation has improved every month for more than 8 years running, while the legal sector’s job results have fluctuated without increasing much overall.
The data put out by BLS on Friday is seasonally adjusted and provisional, meaning January’s results could later be revised. The agency’s latest release also included an upwardly revised count for legal services employees in December—the revision puts December’s figure equal to that in January, but it also marks an increase of 3,400 jobs over the initial figures BLS released for December.
With respect to revisions, BLS also said Friday that it has adjusted its historical data based on a new set of benchmarks. In the legal sector, those adjustments generally increased the monthly employment figures going back several years.
While legal employment remained stable, overall, the U.S. economy added 304,000 jobs in January. That reportedly beat the expectations of Wall Street economists, who had predicted an increase of 170,000 jobs. With January’s job gains, the country’s economy stretched a streak of consecutive monthly job growth to 100 months.
The nation’s unemployment rate ticked up to 4 percent, a little higher than economists’ reported expectations, and the number of unemployed people edged up to 6.5 million. The federal government’s shutdown played a role there, said a statement by William Wiatrowski, the acting commissioner of BLS.
“The impact of the partial federal government shutdown contributed to the uptick in these measures,” said Wiatrowski. Although the shutdown did impact the economy’s employment figures, BLS was fully funded throughout that period, meaning there was no disruption to the agency’s data collection and analysis.
Wages were also on the rise across the economy, though the uptick in January was more modest than in December. Following a 10 cent bump in December, average hourly earnings increased in January by 3 cents to $27.56 for people on private, non-farm payrolls, according to BLS. Compared with January 2018, this month’s earnings represent an 85 cent, 3.2 percent increase.