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Mortgage Jobs Gain as U.S. Employment Falters

Mortgage employment increases 2,800 jobs in March

May 4, 2012

By staff

The news wasn't so good for the U.S. economy, with nonfarm payrolls seeing a lackluster gain. But for people working in the mortgage industry, the news was much better. In addition, government statistics for the home-loan business a year ago were revised up more than 25,000 jobs. Meanwhile, U.S. unemployment hasn't been this low since President Obama first took office.

Monthly government data indicated that 267,600 people were employed in the mortgage industry during March.

Headcount within real estate finance increased from a revised 264,800 employees in February. The month-earlier figure was originally announced at 265,300.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the collective staffing for the industry was weaker than in March 2011, when the number was a revised 272,100. The bureau, a division of the Department of Labor, significantly revised the year-earlier total from what it originally reported: 244,900.

One of two components of the mortgage employment figure is "real estate credit," which climbed to 212,100 in March from 210,000 jobs.

The second component is "mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers," which rose to 55,500 from February's 54,800.

As reported last month, some of the companies that are fueling the growth include Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, Adecco Staffing US and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

For the country as a whole, nonfarm payroll employment was up 115,000 during April -- the second consecutive month that growth fell below 200,000.

A weak payroll report last month, along with austerity stress in Spain, has been a drag on equities markets (and the market for Spanish bonds).

But a byproduct of the tense environment is low mortgage rates -- with Freddie Mac reporting Thursday that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record-low 3.84 percent and the 15-year loan declined to 3.07 percent -- also an all-time low.

The latest employment news is likely to keep pressure on rates to remain low.

Tugging in the other direction is the unemployment rate, which fell to 8.1 percent last month from 8.2 percent a month earlier.

The last time that the U.S. unemployment rate was this low was January 2009, that same month that Obama was inaugurated. At that point the rate was 7.8 percent.

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