A record half a million workers are now employed in the mortgage banking and brokerage sectors, according to preliminary government figures released May 6.In March, mortgage/nonmortgage broker employment totaled 126,600 jobs and real estate credit professionals accounted for 375,100 full-time positions, bringing total industry employment to 501,700, an 0.8% gain from February's level. The March figure is believed to be the largest industry employment reading ever recorded. Four years ago about 350,000 workers made their livelihoods from mortgages. Residential production is expected to reach $2.9 trillion or so this year, a slight gain from last year's volume but still below the record year of 2003, when $3.9 trillion worth of loans were funded.

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