Following a strong showing in February, the number of mortgage jobs retreated.
People working in real estate finance accounted for 252,500 of U.S. jobs during March. Mortgage employment contracted from a revised 253,900 in February — when mortgage jobs increased by the highest amount since February 2006.
A year earlier, employment in the mortgage sector stood at a revised 271,900.
The employment data was released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor.
March’s total included 192,500 people in “real estate credit,” falling from February’s 193,400.
“Mortgage and non-mortgage loan brokers” declined to 60,000 from 60,500 a month earlier.
Impacting March activity were 86 New Jersey layoffs at a Wachovia facility; MetLife Home Loans, where mortgage employment declined by 82 people during the first quarter; PNC Mortgage, which cut its mortgage force by 73 people from January to March; and Flagstar Bank, which saw the number of loan officers and account executives decline by 22 between Dec. 31 and March 31.
Also factoring into March mortgage numbers were 298 layoffs in Pennsylvania by Harleysville National Bank; 261 Illinois layoffs by U.S. Bank; the failure of Draper, Utah-based Advanta Bank Corp., which impacted 124 employees; 58 Cleveland layoffs by PNC; and 50 Bank of America Corp. layoffs in Bellevue, Wash.
U.S. nonfarm payroll employment increased 290,000 last month. But the unemployment rate increased to 9.9 percent in April from 9.7 percent in March, according to the bureau.