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Mortgage Sector Job Losses Slow in April

The employment picture in the mortgage industry appeared to stabilize in April after several quarters of downsizing and job cuts.

Nonbank mortgage companies trimmed just 300 full-time employees from their payrolls in April after cutting 4,000 in the prior month. Over the first four months of this year, 9,200 workers lost their jobs at independent mortgage banking and brokerage firms.

Total employment in the nonbank mortgage banking and brokerage sector fell to 279,000 in April from 279,300 in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning. A year ago, these mortgage companies had 304,200 full time employees as the refinancing boom began to stall.

This year managers had to contend with falling demand for refis and purchase mortgages. Lenders originated nearly 120,000 Federal Housing Administration-insured purchase loans in the first quarter, down 21% from the prior quarter.

Lenders sold $34.5 billion worth of purchase mortgages to Fannie Mae in the first quarter, down from $57.7 billion in the prior quarter. Freddie Mac reported a similar drop as purchase mortgage volume fell to $23 billion in the first quarter compared to $30 billion in the prior quarter.

Overall, the U.S. economy created 217,000 new jobs in May, which was very close to the average forecast. The BLS also reported that the unemployment rate held steady at 6.3%.

(There is a one-month lag in the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting of mortgage employment data.)

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