Employment in the mortgage industry rose to a new high in October as lenders added 2,900 full-time employees to their payrolls, though overall employment in the mortgage industry has been surprisingly steady all year.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment in the mortgage banking/broker sector increased from 504,500 in September to 507,400 in October. Since October 2005, employment is up only 0.6%. However, it is surprising to see lenders hiring when sales of existing homes are down 11% and new-home sales are down 25% over the past 12 months. Orawin Velz, director of forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association, noted that mortgage rates were falling in September and October and refinancing activity had picked up. Nevertheless, "it is surprising that we haven't seen a year-over-year decline," Ms. Velz said. The MBA forecaster said she expects to see some payroll trimming in the coming months. The BLS can be found online at http://stats.bls.gov.

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