Nonbank mortgage jobs bounce back, exceed year-ago levels

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The latest monthly employment estimates for nondepository home lenders and loan brokers rebounded in October and rose year-to-year, reversing a downward trend in 12-month comparisons.

Jobs generated by nonbank mortgage companies totaled 336,600 during the month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number was up slightly from 336,300 a year ago and from an upwardly revised 329,200 in September.

The latest overall employment statistics, which the BLS reports with less of a lag than nonbank mortgage estimates, also were relatively strong and showed wage growth continues to bolster consumers’ home-purchasing power.

“We continue to see growth in the purchase market, supported by steady job gains and slowly-increasing housing inventory,” said Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association, in an email. “Payroll growth surged by 266,000 jobs in November – the strongest monthly gain since January. This month’s numbers, combined with upward revisions for the prior two months, raised the average for 2019 to around 180,000 jobs per months, which still indicates a very strong labor market. The unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 3.5% and matched the 50-year low. Wage growth increased 3.1% compared to last November and has been more closely aligned with home-price appreciation.”

But while the latest numbers for overall wage and inventory gains were somewhat heartening for the housing market, the increase in homebuilding jobs during the past month underwhelmed at least one economist. That suggests supply issues could continue to constrain affordability.

“Residential construction (including specialty trade contractors) employment posted a small decline this month, suggesting hopes for an acceleration of housing supply growth will be disappointed,” said Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, in an email.

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