The bad news is that mortgage employers trimmed their staffing in January. The good news is that an upward revision to December’s numbers more than offset January’s job losses, while even better news is a big improvement the U.S. job situation.
Mortgage firms employed 287,100 people during January. The total includes jobs in “real estate credit” and “mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers.
Staffing in real estate finance fell from the previous month, when 289,100 people were employed in the business. However, December’s total was revised up from the 272,900 jobs originally reported.
The figures were reported Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mortgage employment increased from a year earlier, when industry-wide headcount was 257,700. The January 2012 number was revised down from the 262,100 positions originally reported.
Hurting this January’s headcount was JPMorgan Chase & Co., which is expected to eliminate more than 1,600 mortgage jobs during the first quarter; Bank of America Corp., where more than an estimated 600 mortgage jobs are expected to be eliminated; and Promontory Financial Group, which eliminated 300 jobs in January. In addition, the closing of Edward Jones Mortgage is expected to result in more than 200 first-quarter layoffs.
The “real estate credit” category accounted for 210,400 of January’s total, off from a revised 211,900 a month earlier but better than a revised 198,300 in the year-earlier period.
“Mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers” made up 76,700 of the latest total, down from the prior month’s revised 77,200. But broker employment has risen from the same month during the prior year, when a revised 59,400 employees were in this category.
Beyond the mortgage industry, the national labor market improved considerably.
U.S. employers added 236,000 nonfarm jobs during February, according to the BLS — a division of the Department of Labor. In January, just 157,000 jobs were added.
In addition, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January.
The positive news is likely to drive the stock market deeper into record territory while driving up interest rates in the process.