The labor market continued to grow at a rapid pace, including a welcome boost in mortgage-related jobs. While the news marks an advantage for job hunters, home hunters are likely to see higher rates.
In its latest employment report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said mortgage jobs totaled 444,300 in March, increasing from the previous month's revised figure of 436,700. The total a year ago was 423,500.
The Bureau, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, reports employment numbers about 30 days following the end of each month.
The latest total was composed of 317,800 people working in Real Estate Credit and 126,500 mortgage and nonmortgage brokers, according to the report.
Among mortgage companies recently reporting plans to add employees are Accredited, Ameriquest and MILA.
The Bureau said overall employment, or nonfarm payroll jobs, rose by 288,000 in April and was widespread for the second consecutive month. Employment was much stronger than economists' predictions that growth would be between 165,000 to 173,000 jobs, according to published reports. Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, recently said he expected job growth to be in the 200,000 to 225,000 range toward the end of the year.
Speculation of strong employment data and a recent announcement by the Federal Reserve Board's rate committee that it could raise rates at a "measured" pace has already pushed mortgage rates up to the highest level since September, and it's expected they will continue to rise in response to economic growth.
The unemployment rate was little changed over the month at 5.6%, the announcement said.