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Mortgage Lenders, Servicers Expand Payrolls

Mortgage employment increases by 700 jobs in February

April 5, 2013

By Mortgage Daily staff

Mortgage firms increased their staffing in February, according to government data released Friday. The U.S. unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell to the lowest level in more than four years. But the news wasn't so good for jobs added among all industries, and the dismal report is already having a big effect on interest rates.

The total number of people classified as mortgage employees was 286,800 in February.

Employment in real estate finance grew from a month earlier, when a revised 286,100 people were employed in the industry.

February's strong showing was helped along by Wells Fargo & Co., which was slated to increase mortgage staffing by 1,550 in the first three months of 2013; Wingspan Portfolio Advisors, which added 400 employees to its payroll in February; and PHH Mortgage Corp., which was expected to increase headcount by 450 jobs in the first quarter.

Also helping mortgage employment was Anikim Credit Corp., which is adding a thousand jobs this year, and New Penn Financial LLC, where 221 mortgage positions were expected to be added in the first quarter;

The employment data, which was released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicated that mortgage jobs have significantly expanded from February 2012, when a revised 260,000 employees were working for mortgage firms.

February's numbers reflected 209.900 employees classified as "real estate credit." The total increased from 209,500 in January and 199.300 in February 2012.

Also included in the latest total were 76,900 "mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers," up from 76,600 in the prior month. During the same month in the prior year, broker count totaled 60,700.

Among all U.S. industries, nonfarm employment was up by just 88,000 jobs in March -- the worst reading since Jun 2012, when only 80,000 jobs were added. In February, there were a whopping 236,000 U.S. jobs added.

The employment news is already having a huge impact on the stock market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling more than 160 points in early trading.

As investors exit equities, they are moving their money into U.S. Treasury bonds, pushing up the price of the benchmark 10-year Treasury note up by 21/32.

Yields move down when Treasury prices move up -- suggesting that mortgage rates will fall.

But the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent in February. March's unemployment rate was the lowest since December 2008, when the rate was 7.3 percent.

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