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ANALYSIS: June Legal Industry Jobs Situation Improved, For Some

July 2, 2020, 6:25 PM

The U.S. is preparing for the Fourth of July holiday—whatever that means in these times of Covid-19. But before you turn your attention to enjoying the sunshine (assuming you haven’t started your celebrations already), we’re here to give you an update on the clouds that have been hanging over legal occupations employment. And, lest you dread reading on, the highlights are that things improved in June for the industry overall, but not everyone shared in the improvement.

It is yet another monthly release day for Bureau of Labor Statistics employment figures. As you may recall, last month’s report was bleak, with legal occupations experiencing its highest unemployment rate since 2013.

June unemployment, however, was better than May for both the U.S. as a whole and for legal occupations. The total United States unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) dropped to 11.2% from the May rate of 13%. Legal occupations experienced an unemployment rate drop as well, from 5.4% down to 4.1% (not seasonally adjusted). While better than May, this still reflects an increase of 0.4 percentage points when compared to April.

For the second month in a row, men and women experienced the same unemployment rate, with both at 4.1% in June, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points from May.


Employment increases were not shared among all races. There were approximately 32,000 fewer Black employees and 7,000 fewer Asian employees in legal occupations in June. White employees gained 63,000 jobs in the same time period.

BLS continues to caveat its monthly figures based on the Covid-19 situation. Social distancing and business closures negatively impacted the agency’s ability to compile survey data. BLS also notes that some workers experiencing temporary coronavirus-related unemployment might have been misclassified. It estimates that the actual unemployment rate could have been up to 1% higher in June for the total U.S. (not seasonally adjusted). This estimated error is down significantly from last month, when BLS estimated that the total U.S. unemployment rate would have been approximately 3% higher than reported.

We will continue to monitor legal occupations employment for you, so look for an update next month. For a refresher on historical unemployment in legal occupations and how economic downturns have affected it in the past, refer back to my April 3 analysis. For a refresher on the representation of Black workers in the legal industry, refer to Meg McEvoy’s June 11 analysis.

If you’re reading this on the Bloomberg Terminal, please run BLAW OUT <GO> in order to access the hyperlinked content.