Nonbank mortgage employment falters as seasonal slowdown sets in

The estimated number of mortgage professionals employed by nondepository institutions inched down in November 2019 following a surge in the previous month.

Nonbank mortgage bankers and broker employment totaled 335,300 during the penultimate month of last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That brought the total number of nondepository jobs in home lending back below where it was a month earlier.

The estimated number of mortgage jobs at nonbanks totaled 335,300 in November 2019, compared to 336,600 in October 2019 and 332,000 in November 2018.

Overall employment numbers, which the BLS reports with less of a lag than nonbank mortgage industry estimates, also were weaker than expected in December, but still relatively favorable.

“With such a tight job market and lower unemployment rate, we still hold to the view that conditions are supportive for home-purchase activity and are cautiously optimistic that we will see gradual growth in home sales and purchase originations in 2020,” Joel Kan, assistant vice president of economic and industry forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in an emailed press statement.

Employers across all industries added 145,000 jobs in December 2019, compared to a downwardly revised 256,000 in November 2019 and 227,000 in December 2018. At 3.5%, unemployment remained unchanged compared with November, but it was down from 3.9% a year earlier.

“The three-month average gain in employment was healthy at 180,000. The unemployment rate held steady at historically low levels, and the number of persons working part-time who would prefer full-time jobs continued to decline,” Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist said in a press statement.

“On the other hand, the manufacturing and transportation sectors both saw small employment declines, and wages, while still growing at a health year-over-year pace, decelerated slightly,” he added. “In terms of the housing market, residential construction (including specialty trade contractors) posted a modest increase, and we expect continued gains in residential construction employment going forward.”

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