How do legal occupations compare to other occupations?
From 2001 to 2010, legal occupations had the smallest increase in unemployment rate among the ten U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics management and professional occupation categories.
Legal Occupations Compared to other Management, Professional, and Related Occupations 2001-2010 (See Chart 5)
The blogs and the media present anecdotal observations focused solely on unemployed lawyers and law students. Here is how unemployment in the legal occupations compares to other management and professional occupations:
These ten categories established by the Bureau of Labor Statistics include the most likely alternatives for those considering a career as a lawyer, and are the most likely jobs to require some graduate level education. With unemployment rates well below the other occupations and more than three times lower than the national unemployment rate, the legal occupations and healthcare occupations are by far the best career alternatives. Legal occupations also had the smallest increase in the unemployment rate over the past ten years (1.1%).
Lawyers Compared to other Management, Professional, & Related Occupations 2001-2010 (See Chart 6)
Here is how unemployment for lawyers compares to unemployment for 53 detailed occupations within the BLS management and professional occupations category:
Comparing lawyers to these 53 common management, professional, and related occupations shows that only doctors, dentists, and veterinarians had lower unemployment rates than lawyers in 2010. All other comparable occupations had higher unemployment rates, and most other occupations had much higher unemployment rates than lawyers:
- Astronomers and physicists - double the rate of lawyers;
- Computer software engineers - more than three times the lawyer rate;
- Environmental engineers - more than four times the lawyer rate;
- News analysts, reporters, and commentators - more than five times the lawyer rate;
- Advertising and promotion managers - nearly six times the lawyer rate; and
- Architects - nearly seven times the lawyer rate.
The national unemployment rate is more than six times the unemployment rate of lawyers. Jobs requiring an advanced degree generally had lower unemployment rates than jobs not requiring that degree, which supports the conclusion that earning an advanced degree is an investment likely to lead to better employment opportunities over a worker's career.
The data also shows that from 2001 to 2010, only two occupations (veterinarians and computer software engineers) had a smaller increase in their unemployment rate than lawyers, and only two occupations matched that of lawyers (dentists and physicians). A full list of 2010 unemployment rates for all detailed occupations within the BLS management and professional occupations category will be included in the full version of Report One.