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Mortgage Jobs Retreat Despite Broker Growth

237,300 mortgage jobs in July

Sept. 2, 2011

By staff

An increase in the number of mortgage brokers wasn't enough to offset a drop in mortgage banking employees. But bad news for overall U.S. employment could be good news for mortgage employment.

The Department of Labor reported Friday that there were 237,300 people employed in real estate finance during July.

Mortgage industry headcount eased from a revised 238,800 in June.

However, despite the month-over-month decline, recently plunging mortgage rates have sparked a refinance rally and boosted hirings. The strengthening is likely to be reflected in subsequent reports.

When compared to the 260,900 industry staff level a year ago, the decline was more pronounced. The government significantly revised last year's total from the 247,700 originally reported.

July's total included 188,300 people working in "real estate finance," down from the previous month's 190,200. Helping to drive this number lower were firms like Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. -- where thousands of mortgage jobs have been eliminated this year.

But the number of "mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers" was higher, rising to 49,000 from June's 48,600.

The increase likely reflects the ability of the broker sector to respond more quickly to changes in local demand for refinances.

Based on employment in all industries, there were no jobs added in the country during August versus a 117,000 gain previously reported for July. The lackluster results were impacted by a strike at Verizon.

The poor showing for U.S. jobs dragged down stocks, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading down more than 200 points in early trading. Investors scrambled for the perceived safety of the Treasury market -- driving down the 10-year Treasury yield by around 15 basis points.

The bad news could help push mortgage rates lower and potentially strengthen refinance demand and mortgage hirings.

U.S. unemployment was unchanged at 9.1 percent.

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