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What Unemployment?

What Unemployment?

Mortgage industry jobs swell to 413,000

February 10, 2003


Rates, refis, and the overall mortgage industry aren’t the only things that rolled into 2003 at high speed — broker and banker jobs didn’t show signs of slowing down in January, either. Experts say other factors will have to play in for this to be a trend and not a blip on the flat economic radar.

About 413,000 people held those mortgage positions last month, according to the seasonally adjusted report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s an increase from the 407,000 jobs in December and the 400,000 during November. January’s number is also a 16% jump from the number of mortgage broker and banker jobs during the same time last year.

The nation’s general unemployment rate took a surprising yet welcomed dip to 5.7% in January from the 6.0% of December. December’s rate was the highest unemployment rate of 2002, shared with November and April.

Everyone wonders how and when the economy will get back to its old self, and two experts at the Commercial Real Estate Finance/Multifamily Housing Convention & Expo (CREF) in San Diego on Monday had some ideas.

Anthony Pierson, managing director of TimesSquare Real Estate Fund and Research, said at a CREF luncheon to look at simple demographics when wondering where jobs will manifest as the economy recovers.

“Look where the youth are. That’s where the jobs will generate,” he said.

He added that as soon as the dollar cheapens and more hands exchange money in the marketplace, the economy will recoup. Doug Duncan, chief economist at Mortgage Bankers Association of America, said he agrees, but that theory works only for the short run.

Pierson said the commercial side’s sluggish office sector will recover when general employment begins to significantly rise. Duncan replied that not only the number of jobs must increase for this to happen, but also the quality of jobs. Other factors have played into the epidemic of empty office space, Duncan said, such as families being reduced from two wage-earners to one.

The employment figures reported are based on preliminary estimates, which the bureau doesn’t consider complete until two successive revisions. The bureau doesn’t report the final figures until later in the month.

Christy Robinson is the editor of She received a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from The University of Texas at Arlington. Her work has previously been published in The Dallas Morning News.

email Christy at:

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