Mortgage lenders dropped 3,000 full-time employees from their payrolls in July, according to the August employment report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.Despite the drop, employment in the mortgage sector is still near last year's peak, and the Mortgage Bankers Association's chief economist says he expects the job numbers for August to show little change. (There is a one-month lag in BLS reporting of mortgage-sector employment data, and the August data will not be released until Oct. 8.) The latest BLS report shows that jobs in the mortgage banking/broker sector fell from 457,300 in June to 454,300 in July. "We expect August to be about the same as July," MBA chief economist Doug Duncan said. "We have seen a tick down in interest rates in August. So companies are still getting some benefit at the margin by maintaining employment." Meanwhile, the U.S. economy created 144,000 new jobs in August, and the unemployment rate declined slightly from 5.5% in July to 5.4% in August. The BLS can be found online at http://stats.bls.gov.

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