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Mortgage Firms Stopped Hiring in October After Staffing Up Much of 2012

DEC 7, 2012 10:00am ET
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After hiring 18,400 full-time employees since April, mortgage companies took a breather in October and reduced their head count by 500 positions, according to government figures released Friday morning.  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment in the mortgage banking and brokerage sectors fell to 284,500 full-time positions in October from 285,000 in September. 

The slight decline in new hires comes despite the fact that some industry officials are telling National Mortgage News that recruitment at the vice president level and higher is the most aggressive it has been in years.

One West Coast-based lender, requesting his name not be used, said recruitment is the strongest he has seen in 25 years. “But it’s tougher now since so many have left the business,” he said.

(The need for processors and underwriters is also high.)

He added that cyclical nature of mortgage finance is a chief concern. He said firms staff up “only to end up firing everyone again after refinances dry up.”

In the mortgage space hiring has been strong this year, particularly at mortgage brokerage shops, which have added 13,100 loan officers and other employees to their payrolls since January.

Overall, employment in the mortgage industry is up 8.2% since October 2011.

The new figures, obviously, do not include recent layoffs by Citigroup and mortgage due diligence provider Allonhill LLC.

Friday’s jobs report shows the U.S. economy created 146,000 new positions in November despite the impact of Hurricane Sandy.  Most economists expected the figure would be fewer than 100,000 due to disruptions the hurricane caused in heavily populated areas of the Northeast.

The jobs number was particularly surprising since employment in the construction industry fell by 20,000 positions, after rising by 15,000 in October.

Mortgage related jobs lag the national numbers by one month.

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