Mortgage companies reduced their payrolls by 1,600 full-time positions during May as refinancing activity ratcheted down from nearly 50% of originations in the first quarter.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment in the mortgage banker/broker sector fell from 501,600 in April to 500,000 in May. Employment in the mortgage sector hit a 12-month high of 504,800 in February, when refinancings were running at 49% of originations. In May, refi applications as a percentage of total originations dropped into the mid-30s, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's mortgage application survey. The latest BLS employment report shows that the U.S. economy created 121,000 new jobs in June, compared with 92,000 in May. (There is a one-month lag in reporting mortgage industry employment data.) The BLS reported that construction employment was "essentially unchanged for the fourth consecutive month" and that there has been "little job growth" in the financial services sector for the second month in a row. The BLS can be found online at http://stats.bls.gov.

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