An increase in the number of mortgage brokers was offset by a decline in non-broker mortgage jobs. However, the government revised the prior month’s mortgage industry headcount up by more than 28,000 jobs. But the bigger news was an improvement in the U.S. employment situation last month. The latest data are a sign of an improving economy — though it might also signal the end of record-low interest rates.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released U.S. employment data early Friday indicating that 265,300 people were employed in the mortgage industry during the month of December.
Headcount for real estate finance slipped from a revised 265,400 in November.
But the good news is that the bureau, a division of the Department of Labor, revised November’s total up from 237,200 — an increase of more than 28,000 jobs.
A year earlier, the number of mortgage employees was a revised 280,300.
The number of people classified as “mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers” grew from 55,600 in November to 56,100.
But the mortgage broker improvement was offset by employees in the category “real estate credit,” with that figure falling to 209,200 in December from 209,800.
Among all industries, U.S. nonfarm employment jumped 243,000 during January — a positive sign for the U.S. economy.
In addition, unemployment dropped to 8.3 percent last month from 8.5 percent previously reported for December.
While the numbers are positive for the country as a whole, they likely will drive mortgage rates higher and reduce refinance opportunties.
However, many underwater borrowers who missed the boat on the last round of rate cuts will still likely take advantage of a refinance through the expanded version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program.