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Lenders Continue Cutting Jobs

Mortgage News

Staffing in real estate finance continued to contract as lenders reduced human resource expense. Among all industries, job growth slowed dramatically — sending bond yields sharply lower. One good piece of news was a five-year low for the unemployment rate.

Mortgage firms employed 280,600 people during the month of November, according to preliminary data released Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While BLS figures include jobs at employers classified as mortgage companies, they exclude home lending jobs at non-mortgage firms like banks and credit unions — which account for a majority of originations and servicing.

Mortgage Daily estimates that total industry headcount is actually between 1 million and 2 million employees.

The BLS total was down from 284,200 in October. The prior-month figures were revised up from 284,000 originally reported.

In November 2012, U.S. mortgage staffing stood at 286,400. The year-earlier number was revised up from 284,900 in the original report.

Among companies with a large number of mortgage layoffs in November were Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Nationstar Mortgage and Wells Fargo & Co.

The most recent BLS figures reflected 206,500 employees working in “real estate credit.” This category was down from 209,000 a month earlier and 209,800 a year earlier.

“Mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers” accounted for another 74,100 people, falling from 75,200 in October and 76,600 in November 2012.

Among all U.S. industries, total nonfarm payrolls were up 74,000 during December, according to the BLS, a division of the Department of Labor.

Employment growth plummeted from the previous month, when 203,000 jobs were added.

The dismal report had an immediate impact on rates, with the price of the 10-year Treasury jumping 24/32 in early trading. Treasury yields move lower when prices rise.

The good news from the BLS, however, was that the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent last month from 7.0 percent in November.

The last time the unemployment rate was this low was in October 2008, when it was 6.5 percent.

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