Mortgage lenders added 2,600 full-time employees to their payrolls in September, according to a government report, despite a slowdown in lending in the third quarter.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment in the mortgage banker/broker sector increased from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 501,900 in August to 504,500 in September. Preliminary results from a National Mortgage News survey show that some top lenders experienced loan production declines of 30% or more, compared with loan volumes of a year earlier. Refinancing activity has remained fairly strong, at 40% of mortgage applications, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association survey. But home sales have been declining, and Friday's jobs report shows a sharp drop in construction jobs. While the homebuilders have been holding on to their core employees, the BLS reported that concrete contractors, plumbers, and other specialty trades cut 17,300 employees in September and another 30,700 employees in October. The BLS can be found online at http://stats.bls.gov.

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