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Mortgage Jobs Decline Despite U.S. Expansion

Although U.S. unemployment fell to the lowest level in nearly five years, jobs in real estate finance began what is likely to be a painful contraction.

During August, a total of 291,900 people were employed in the mortgage industry. The figures, which were delayed as a result of the government shutdown, are preliminary and could change next month.

The latest number was worse than in July, when 295,700 people were on the payrolls of mortgage firms. July’s numbers were revised up from 295,300 originally reported.

However, industry-wide headcount was higher than in August 2012, when staffing in the sector was 279,200. The year-earlier numbers were originally reported at 280,000 employees.

The data were released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the Department of Labor.

Among employers that significantly impacted the August 2013 numbers were JPMorgan Chase & Co., which is cutting 11,000 mortgage jobs this year; OneWest Bank FSB, with roughly a thousand jobs eliminated during the month; and Bank of America Corp., where 543 Fresno, Calif., employees were laid off;

The decline in mortgage jobs has accelerated since August, with several major mortgage employers issuing thousands of layoff notices — some that have yet to take effect.

“Real estate credit” employees accounted for 213,600 of the most recent mortgage jobs total, down from 215,200 a month earlier and 205,500 a year earlier.

The number of employees classified as “mortgage and nonmortgage loan brokers fell to 78,300 from 80,500 in July and 73,700 in August 2012.

The numbers were more positive across all U.S. industries, with nonfarm payroll employment increasing 148,000 during September — though that was down from the 169,000 jobs added in August..

Unemployment, meanwhile, was 7.2 percent — the lowest level since it was 6.8 percent in November 2008.

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