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Mortgage Jobs Rise Despite Weak Employment Report

Hurricanes lead to staffing losses among all industries

Oct. 6, 2017

By Mortgage Daily staff

While the nation's overall employment was battered by the recent hurricane activity, non-bank employment within the home-lending sector moved higher.

U.S. nonfarm staffing concluded September at 146,659,000 employees, according to data reported Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last month's payrolls declined 33,000 jobs from August. It was the first drop in employment since September 2010, when 52,000 jobs were lost.

There were an upwardly revised 169,000 jobs added in August 2017 and an upwardly revised 249,000 positions added in September 2016.

National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions Chief Economist Curt Long explained that the dismal numbers were not unexpected given the recent hurricanes.

"The lousy returns from the September jobs report will make little impression on observers, who essentially gave the labor market a free pass due to the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Long" said in a written statement. "Both the 33,000 job decline and the rise in wage growth to a level which matches the highest point of the recovery will be downplayed, as many of the lost jobs were likely in low-wage areas."

But despite the drop in payrolls, the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent last month -- the lowest unemployment rate since February 2001 when it was also 4.2 percent. The rate was 4.4 percent in August 2017 and 4.9 percent in September 2016.

Also improving was the labor force participation rate, which rose to 63.1 percent in September 2017 -- the widest it's been since March 2014. The rate was 62.9 percent a month earlier and a year earlier.

Non-bank staffing in just the mortgage industry, which the BLS reports on a one-month lag, totaled 342,600 in August 2017. That turned out to be an increase from July, when there were an upwardly revised 341,100 mortgage jobs. Mortgage jobs also strengthened from August 2016, when there were an upwardly revised 322,100 people employed in the industry.

August 2017 mortgage staffing consisted of 242,900 "real estate credit" jobs and 99,700 "mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers."

Extrapolating the BLS data based on origination market share, Mortgage Daily estimates that total mortgage industry employment -- including jobs at financial institutions -- was 658,100 this past August. The total includes an estimated 251,300 mortgage jobs at banks, 64,200 home-lending positions at credit unions and the 342,600 non-bank jobs reported by the BLS.

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