Employment in the mortgage industry jumped 1.7% in March as low mortgage rates spurred refinancing and homebuying.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that jobs in the mortgage banking/broker sector rose from 436,700 in February to 444,300 in March. The 7,600 jump in new hires came during a month when 30-year fixed mortgage rates dipped below 5.4%. The 30-year mortgage rate moved above 6.0% at the end of April, and the strong April jobs report is putting more pressure on rates. The BLS reported that the U.S. economy generated 288,000 new jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 5.6% from 5.7% in March. (There is a one-month lag in the BLS's reporting of mortgage-sector employment data. The April employment report released Friday only provided mortgage banking/broker data for March.) The BLS can be found online at http://stats.bls.gov.

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