Employment in the overall mortgage industry hit a record 489,400 full-time positions in January, but broker jobs appear to be slipping.According to figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of "real estate credit" employees reached a record 366,300, but "mortgage and non-mortgage broker" jobs came in at 123,100 positions, the lowest reading since September of last year. (Added together, real estate credit employees and mortgage and non-mortgage brokers account for total industry employment.) In 2004 mortgage lenders funded $2.7 trillion in loans, according to National Mortgage News, the industry's second-best year ever. Employment in the industry is expected to remain strong as long as mortgage rates do not rise significantly. However, in the refinancing market -- where loan brokers play a more prominent role -- applications are continuing to decline. Two years ago the mortgage industry employed 421,000 full-timers.

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