Sunday, February 7, 2016

January 2016

Win some, lose some. Despite a substantial downward revision of December's figure, January employment still dropped as Legal Industry workers relocated to Home Depot to sell snow removal supplies. As the year progresses, thousands of migrant JDs will sojourn in the fertile fields of Jackson Hewitt and then move on to their summer gig, with a newly-minted crop of graduates following. Just an ebb and flow with the seasons, never changing much.

A number of bloggers have noted updated BLS projections for lawyer employment 2014-2024. Charitably, they suck. There will be approximately 4,400 jobs openings annually due to growth and another 11,400 due to "retirement." So, mid-30-thousandish graduates competing for fewer than half that in available jobs. TLS posters can put that in their pipe and smoke it.

I increasingly question some of the BLS numbers, particularly the median annual wage. When I took economics I was introduced to the concept of perfect competition. The professor used owner-operator truckers as an example. I would update the example to be lawyers.

  • There is free entry and exit for different firms operating in this market. The only hindrances to entry are firm’s related constraints like costs and lack of raw materials.
    Comment: the gummint will lend you all the money you need, at which point you only need to pass the bar. Toilet law schools are working hard to remove that obstacle.
  • The goods sold in this market are homogenous. Homogenous means that the products are almost identical and the consumer does not prefer one product to the other.
    Comment: sad to break this to you, special snowflakes.
  • The perfect competition market has also a very large number of buyers and sellers. This way there is no individual firm in the market that can influence the prices of goods and services.
    Comment: any questions? Really?
  • The individual firms are price takers and have to accept the prices set by the laws of demand and supply.
    Comment: supply for decades roughly twice as many lawyers as the market needs, add outsourcing and automation, and tell me how wages won't fall through the floor?
  • In a perfectly competition market there is no information asymmetry and Perfect information is available to the buyers and sellers.
    Comment: I won't argue that perfect information is available, but the internet has gotten us much closer than when I was in school.

To reiterate, if you're going to shovel excess lawyers into the market unceasingly then their wages will drop. I haven't seen that with the BLS numbers; either they're wrong or the oversupply isn't as bad as they say.

Not seasonally adjustedJanuary20151,107,500
Seasonally adjustedJanuary20151,115,200
Change from Dec-15 to